DURBAN – Khaya Zondo relished every minute of his final-day knock against the Titans, as it brought out the mongrel in him.
As he batted out the day to salvage a draw against a powerful Titans team, he offered up what one might call a captain’s knock.
“I guess so. I enjoyed that, because that is why we play. You want to be tested, and you want to know that you are improving as a player very time you get out there,” he said ahead of the second Sunfoil Series encounter against the Knights in Durban on Thursday.
Zondo also admitted that though captaincy comes with its own pressures, when he walks out to the middle, he sees himself as purely a batsman.
“I have to look at it that way. When you are batting, that is your main job. I would like to think that the team understand that I will try and lead from the front, but that we are all leaders when we are out there.
“I enjoy the challenge of captaincy, but you cannot put that much pressure on yourself, because batting is challenging enough as it is,” he elaborated.
The batting challenge is complicated further by ambition. Like many young batsmen in South African cricket, Zondo has ambitions to play at the next level.
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He spent the winter on tour with the South Africa A side, leading them in a tough four-day series against the England Lions.
“When you look at the results and the statistics, they tell you that we were outplayed, and that we were lacking skill-wise. That is not true, but the thing that let us down was that we were creating chances and not executing,” he lamented.
Those lapses manifested themselves into some humbling defeats, and Zondo admitted that it was a baptism of fire. By the time they returned to play in the tri-series on home soil, they were in a better space.
“When we came back here, we had also got used to each other a bit more, but we took our chances. That was a learning experience, as a player and as a leader. Now, the focus is on the Dolphins, and it will be a busy season.”
Zondo is forthright when asked what the aim is for the team. The union as a whole is on a high, after KZN Inland won the Africa T20 Cup on Monday, and the talk in Durban is that the Dolphins must look to follow suit.
“We want to be putting ourselves in those positions. Over the years, we have got to semi-finals, and sometimes the final, but we haven’t been able to take that extra step. That’s we want to be, and to be comfortable enough to play to our full ability in those situations,” he added.
If they do that, Zondo knows that it will put players in the same position as Keshav Maharaj and Andile Phehlukwayo.
“That is what we are all aiming for, to play at the next level. As a batsman, centuries are the currency that talks at that level. You have to put up the averages, and weight of runs is what gets you to the next level. So, you just have to keep delivering,” he shrugged.
“To be honest, I don’t worry about that. People have conversations around that, but my job is just to keep batting and helping the team to be the best it can be.”
It is a simple approach, and one that the Dolphins hope will pay dividends over the course of the season. For Zondo and his men, the Knights are next on the agenda.
Squads For Durban
Dolphins: Sarel Erwee, Senuran Muthusamy, Vaughn van Jaarsveld, Cody Chetty, Sibonelo Makhanya, Khaya Zondo (captain), Morné van Wyk, Robbie Frylinck, Calvin Savage, Mthokozisi Shezi, Prenelan Subrayen, Athi Maposa, Kerwin Mungroo.
Knights: Ottneil Baartman, Mbulelo Budaza, Werner Coetsee, Corné Dry, Eddie Leie, David Miller, Luthando Mnyanda, Grant Mokoena, Keegan Petersen, Patrick Kruger, Rudi Second, Pite van Biljon (captain), Shadley van Schalkwyk.