Dolphins CEO looking to hold on to players after recent triumph as new era dawns
JOHANNESBURG - While still coming to terms with the Dolphins’s triumph in the Four-Day series, the organisation’s CEO, Heinrich Strydom, was already busy negotiating with those players he wants to hold onto, in a new era where the franchise will not exist anymore.
Strydom described Monday’s innings and 76-run victory over the Titans as being “surreal,” but while the celebration’s were understandably vigorous, there was also a tinge of disappointment.
Strydom and the Dolphins as a franchise have just turned the corner. For most of the franchise era - that started 2004/05 - the Dolphins failed to live up to the historical legacy of that region.
However in recent seasons both on and off the field, the KZN franchise had started making the right moves guided by the late Ben Dladla as president and then fully started implementing strategies under Strydom.
A lot of those plans will now either have to be thrown out or readjusted with the new domestic structure set to be applied from next summer.
“We have to try and maintain what we have,” Strydom said Tuesday. “We know there will be one or two players moving on. We have tried to build some stability - we’ve signed the coaching and medical staff for three years, and we have already put plans in place for the new era.”
The new/old union, will continue to carry the Dolphins moniker, and crucially, sponsors like HollywoodBets will remain on board for the next five years. “If we can maintain 90% of what we have we will remain competitive,” Strydom added.
In recent seasons the Dolphins have started earning the success that had passed them by for much of the Franchise era. They’ve had at least a share of the Momentum One-Day Cup in each of the last three years, and were made outright winners last season when the summer was curtailed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
This season they’ve qualified for the final of all three domestic competitions, winning the prestigious Four-Day series outright. “We started to achieve consistency in the white ball formats recently, but that hadn’t been the case in the red ball competition in the last 10 years and we really wanted to reverse that.”
“This was just a phenomenal team effort and it being the last one of the franchise era, makes it so much sweeter.”
The future holds excitement, mixed with apprehension. Much of the development initiatives created in KwaZulu Natal - through their Inland and Coastal teams - will be “destroyed,” said Strydom. While the KZN union will be able to contract 16 players, a host of young players, who’ve come through the development pipeline will either have to move to other provinces or look for work in a different industry.
“It’s been such a long process for us to get to this point (as a franchise) and in some ways you feel like you’re being punished for a lot of that work that was put in. Look, we respect CSA’s decision, but they also know how we feel. We’re confident we’ll be able to help some of the players get contracted elsewhere, but for some, sadly, there won’t be much more we can do.”
Over 70 players nationwide, who have domestic contracts currently, will not be contracted under the new system which will see a return to the provincial structure, with 15 teams spread across two divisions.
Strydom, formerly the CEO at North West Cricket Union, said he was happy for his old union. “For the guys in Paarl (Boland) and Potchefstroom (North West) this will have a huge impact, and allow them to grow. I think for the six main centres the status quo will largely remain. It will also allow the seven in the second division to become more professional.”