DURBAN – New year, new problems for the Dolphins. As they head to Port Elizabeth to meet the Warriors and their merry band in the Momentum One-Day Cup, the men from Durban will have to do so without Vaughn van Jaarsveld, Mthokozisi Shezi and probably Dane Vilas, too.
That is a big hole in their middle-order, though these things can’t be helped. In the case of Vilas, especially, it is completely understandable why the in-form veteran could conceivably miss the trip down the coast.
His wife is expecting and it is a case of any day now. Even in the form that he ended 2017 in, Vilas will most likely have to hold his fire for a week or so. As coach Grant Morgan often says, there is a lot more to life than just cricket. They have given him the night to see what happens, but they travel today.
“We don’t want to push Dane to make a rushed decision, because this is a special time for him. We will make a final call by this afternoon, because we need to put our plans in place as a team,” Morgan explained.
Van Jaarsveld, recently back from a back problem, dislocated a finger during Wednesday’s training session, which is a source of frustration for him and the rest of the team. The powerful left-hander just hasn’t had the fluency he thrives on this term, with rain, injury and now another tweak curtailing his progress.
The third member of the absentees is Shezi, who has turned a corner with the ball of late. He is the Dolphins’ leading wicket-taker, and has rediscovered the late swing that saw him win a Proteas ODI cap a few years ago. But, for now, he is concerned with examinations, and he has been given time to focus on his studies.
That means the likes of Senuran Muthusamy, Sarel Erwee and the fit again Imran Tahir all return to the squad, and they are all very capable of turning a match on their own. Tahir is gearing up for a big series against India in a few weeks, and the Dolphins will be most pleased to have him providing 10 quality overs for the rest of the one-day campaign.
Muthusamy was away from the team for the T20 format, but he brings sound batting and decent slow bowling to the table. Erwee, meanwhile, has scored hundreds in four-day and T20 cricket already this season, and must be eyeing the full bag, to show that he is able to adapt to whatever challenge is in front of him.
The Dolphins regrouped on Tuesday, which consisted of some rather hectic, post-festive season fitness tests, before a sit down and reminder of where they want to go this season. A lot has already happened in the first three months of the season, but Morgan and his men are banking on their best cricket being around the corner.
The sting of the RamSlam final is still apparent, and they want nothing more than to reach another showpiece encounter, and show that they can perform under the brightest lights.