DURBAN - "If it does rain, we won’t complain,” Khaya Zondo smiled. “The rain has been against us for a long time, so it could be on our side for a change.”
Never has the weather been more feverishly discussed as it has over the past two weeks. Any conversation involving the Dolphins is almost obliged to include concerns about what may fall from the sky.
“But, seriously, we want to play. We are all excited to be involved at the business end of the competition,” the Dolphins skipper said soberly.
They may laugh at the incredibly real prospect of yet another washout in Thursday's second RAM Slam T20 Challenge semi-final against the Cobras, but the Dolphins are very keen to do things the right way.
There have been mumblings in some circles about the incredible luck the Dolphins have enjoyed, but Zondo insists it has not been their fault. And, let us be clear, the Dolphins hardly control the weather. It has been their rotten luck that they have hardly played at home. They have sat, forlornly, and dutifully signed autographs and had pictures taken with fans who had nothing else to do.
Yet, five washouts have meant 10 points have come their way, but the Dolphins captain and his predecessor, Morne van Wyk, pointed out that they had been competitive every time they took to the field.
“Look, when we played we won three crucial matches, especially in the last week,” Zondo said.
Indeed, the final games of the Dolphins’ round-robin phase, away to the Knights, and at home to the Titans on Sunday, had to be won to ensure passage to the last four. The huge margin of victory against the Titans was a bonus, and it has handed the Dolphins a home semi, and a decisive advantage if the forecast for rain holds true.
“That Titans team was still a very good team. There are quality players in there, but they probably tried a bit too hard on the day.
“T20 cricket is a format that can get away from you quickly,” Van Wyk said of the lopsided result that got tongues wagging - especially down in the Cape.
Should there be no play on Thursday, that solitary point that sits the Durbanites above the Capetonians will, in the final analysis, be enough to see them through to Saturday’s final. It’s an almost unpalatable thought for the Cobras, but that is the price they are paying for a slow start to the competition, and then a sloppy end in East London.
The Dolphins had the better of the Cobras in their opening fixture of the tournament, and they feel that they have hit their straps in time or the knockout clash.
“We have a few senior players coming into form at the right time, and you need that experience at this stage of the competition,” Van Wyk said.
Of course, the grizzled veteran is among those who have turned a corner in the past fortnight, but he typically passed on credit to another in the ranks.
“I think Dane Vilas has been a fantastic signing for us. He plays with great intensity, and it has been fantastic having a guy who can come in and clear the ropes like he has done,” Van Wyk said.
The former Cobras star has certainly made a difference in Durban, buzzing about and adding a steelier look to the Dolphins’ top order.
His relentless fitness regimen has also challenged others to better their own standards.
“He is probably the best runner I have ever played with, and that is a great asset. We have a good understanding, and it definitely adds a crucial 5-7 runs in every game.”
It is those little things that the Dolphins are trying to put together, as they aim to play their best cricket at the most crucial junction of the short format competition.
Thursday's semi-final at Kingsmead is scheduled to start at 6pm, weather permitting.