DURBAN – “These things can go in several directions, so you have to keep an open mind,” Durban Heat coach Grant Morgan explained after Dolphins practice yesterday.
“You can never plan too far ahead, because things change quite suddenly.
“That being said, we were very happy with what we managed to get out of the draft, and we think we have a competitive squad, but will only know for sure if we have the right combinations come 16 December.”
Though there were some surprises, the Heat did enter the draft with one certainty. They held the very first pick of the day, for the overseas marquee player. Though they had a spread of international talent to choose from, their mind was already made up.
Rashid Khan was their man, and they wasted little time to confirm it.
“We looked at what he brings to the table. He is a world-class performer, capable of winning a match in a spell, and even though he may miss a few matches, we felt that he was the right choice for us,” Morgan explained of the Afghanistan ace.
Beyond Khan, the Dolphins were often at the mercy of other franchises.
And yet, despite that, they landed up with a school of Dolphins in their squad, and some familiar faces that are sure to give the Durban audience plenty of reason to head down to Kingsmead in four weeks’ time.
“We were pleasantly surprised that the chips fell our way in that sense. We got quite a few of our Dolphins, right up front.
“We already had Hash (Amla), but to then get David Miller, Keshav Maharaj, a guy like Kyle Abbott, Khaya (Zondo), and then Sarel Erwee, Morné van Wyk and Okuhle Cele was great for us as a franchise.”
The importance of familiar faces cannot be overstated, but Morgan is also aware of the freshness that comes with stars from afar.
Vernon Philander and Albie Morkel remain major drawcards, Heinrich Klaasen has become a household name, and Temba Bavuma is a firm fan favourite.
“We have covered a lot of bases, and I think it is a squad to be proud of. Naturally, we are disappointed for the handful of our Dolphins players who didn’t crack a nod this time.
“There is some real talent there, and we do feel sorry for them. They will bounce back, and catch the next boat, though.”
For Morgan himself, the Mzansi Super League is yet another opportunity to coach a team with international quality.
It has been a busy year for him, including the SA A tour to India, a leadership course in the States, and his day job at Kingsmead.
Last year, Morgan was set to be an assistant coach for the Johannesburg franchise. Now, however, he is the man in charge, on home turf, and surrounded by people he works with on a daily basis.
“It is very exciting. I have worked around the world, even in the IPL as an assistant coach for Royal Challengers Bangalore.
“But to be head coach of this squad, in Durban, is a real honour, and a massive challenge.
“All I have ever wanted to do was give the city of Durban something to be proud of, and we’ll look to do that.”
For now, Morgan has to keep his eyes firmly focused on the Dolphins and their 4-Day Franchise Series ambitions. They go again on Monday, when they host the Warriors at Kingsmead.
Durban Heat Squad
Hashim Amla, Rashid Khan (Afghanistan), David Miller, Heinrich Klaasen, Kyle Abbott (kolpak), Keshav Maharaj, Khaya Zondo, Albie Morkel, Marchant de Lange (kolpak), Vernon Philander, Brandon Mavuta (Zimbabwe), Temba Bavuma, Morne van Wyk, Okuhle Cele (rookie), Sarel Erwee, Tladi Bokako.