DURBAN - The cost of the Cape Cobras’ last-round loss to the Warriors may well mount as the week continues. Instead of hosting a semi-final, they will instead have to visit the Dolphins on Thursday night, and pray that the anticipated rain misses Kingsmead.
At this very point, the weather forecast suggests that the second semi-final of the T20 Challenge will go the same way as four of the Dolphins’ five home fixtures in the round-robin stages, and be severely affected by the weather.
The Cobras have already been on the wrong side of the weather in Durban, when the round-robin fixture they were in command of was rained out just 17 balls away from the five-over minimum they needed to bowl to constitute a match.
It is those small margins that the Cobras would have taken to bed in East London on Sunday night, and it is those very margins which will see them travel to Durban on a wing and a prayer. They will be lucky to get a game, because the clouds don’t look like they are going away.
It has been an especially wet November and December in Durban, and the rain seems to revisit around the time that any cricket matches are scheduled. It has been hard, depressing even, for Durban fans to keep finding the will to go to games, because they can see the clouds gather as they grab their tickets.
They will go again on Thursday, and they will hope that the forecast has it wrong this time. But, the portents do not look good. It is anticipated that the rain that started last night, and woke Durban with rumbles this morning, will continue and strengthen over the next few days.
Naturally, there is a ray of sunshine - but only on Friday. That has been the pattern over the past three weeks, when the Dolphins had been desperate to get on the park. Incredibly, even their bonus-point victory over the Titans was disrupted by a shower. But, it seems, even the weather gods decreed that the Titans couldn’t get away with an insipid display, and the shower passed to allow the Dolphins time to wrap up the points.
One has to wonder if the Dolphins - in the interests of cricket - could have been open to taking the semi-final to Newlands, and grabbing the lions’ share of the takings from a game under the mountain. And if, by some miracle, the Dolphins brought the rain with them to the parched Mother City, then so be it - and all the better for a city in need of a soaking.
The idea of a home semi away from home does sound ridiculous at first glance, but no one in Durban wants to go through the not-so-insignificant fact of preparing for a game, knowing full well that it is likely to rain on Thursday evening.
To see the disgruntled packing of cooler-boxes and unused umbrellas in the stands has not been fun. It is torturous, actually.
The switch won’t happen, of course, which leaves the door agape for the Dolphins to make the final having completed just five out of a possible 11 matches. It’s incredible, but the weather in Durban at this time of year has been fairly consistent over the past few seasons. It shouldn’t surprise us anymore.
It rains in November, and December. It is raining as this is written. It will probably be raining when you read this. And it will almost certainly rain on Thursday night. There are no reserve days set aside for semi-finals. If there is no result, the Dolphins skip onto Saturday’s final, which has a reserve day, just in case it rains.