Dolphins take on Titans for Four-Day Series crown in Durban
JOHANNESBURG – Arguably the most challenging domestic season since the advent of the franchise system, will conclude with a five-day final between the Dolphins and the Titans for the Four-Day series crown in Durban, starting on Thursday.
In a season in which the Covid-19 pandemic wreaked havoc with the domestic competitions, in fact causing a Pool game between the two finalists to be halted and then called off as a draw after one day’s play last December, because a player contracted the coronavirus, it is something of a miracle, that the season is able to reach this kind of ending.
Indeed, the operations staff at CSA, deserves credit, for pushing through with a domestic schedule in the face of difficult circumstances, a lot of it not of Cricket SA’s making, while dealing with the bitter disappointment of not being able to host a full international programme for the men’s Proteas side this summer.
In condemning the actions of Cricket SA’s Members Council, for not adopting the proposals for a change in the administrative structure, the players union, the SA Cricketers Association, praised the work of the operations staff in completing the domestic season.
“This has been achieved through collaborative work between CSA, SACA, CSA’s Sponsors and Broadcasters, and is evidence of what can be accomplished when stakeholders work together in the best interests of the game,” SACA’s CEO, Andrew Breetzke said in a statement.
Most of that Four-Day series has been played with the Proteas present which will sadly not be the case for the final, with many going into a ‘bio-secure environment’ ahead of the limited overs series’s against Pakistan next month.
Both teams have suffered major blows in that regard, with players missing who have been influential in helping them to qualify for the final.
In the case of the Dolphins, they are without Keshav Maharaj, who’s been the major force that has driven them to the final. Maharaj scored 167 runs - including two half-centuries - and picked up 21 wickets in the two matches the Dolphins have played this month.
“Not having Keshav does leave a big hole, and not just because of his leadership but also that he contributed so much with bat and ball,” said the Dolphins captain. Marques Ackermann.
The Titans meanwhile have ‘lost’ seven players to national call ups including the influential Lizaad Williams and opener Aiden Markram, who came within 55 runs of 1000 for the season but won’t add to his aggregate as he’s in the ‘bubble’ for the ODIs against Pakistan.
“Aiden has been unbelievable for us this season, you can’t really replace that, he’s the best opener in South Africa at the moment,” said Titans skipper Grant Thomson.
But a final and especially one played over five days - which very few players have experienced - will naturally raise the intensity among the players.
“Not having the Proteas, doesn’t take hype away from the game,” said Ackerman. “We’re more excited to win this than ever before, it's our third final as a Dolphins team this season and it’s the biggest one.”
It’s also the last franchise game with domestic cricket switching back to a provincial structure next summer.
The first ball will be bowled at 9am on Thursday.
Dolphins - Marques Ackerman (capt), Prenelan Subrayen, Lifa Ntanzi, Sarel Erwee, Grant Roelofsen, Khaya Zondo, Senuran Muthusamy, Keith Dudgeon, Kerwin Mungroo, Ottneil Baartman, Mangaliso Mosehle, Ruan De Swardt, Eathan Bosch, Keegan Petersen
Titans - Grant Thomson (capt), Matthew Arnold, Neil Brand, Okuhle Cele, Theunis de Bruyn, Dean Elgar, Dayyaan Galiem, Bafana Mahlangu, Sibonelo Makhanya, Rivaldo Moonsamy, Thando Ntini, Kyle Simmonds, Yaseen Valli