DURBAN - The Dolphins will step onto home turf for the first time this season, when they host the Warriors in the Four-Day Franchise Series.
The Dolphins are keen to make amends for their defeat to the Knights in their last outing, a result which was not helped by some lapses in the field in the final innings, as the men from Bloemfontein chased down a tricky target. “We have paid particular attention to the fielding, and we have done some good work this week,” coach Grant Morgan explained.
The Dolphins have had over a week to mull over that defeat and, far from taking it easy, they have actually thrown themselves into training sessions, determined to set straight their season at the earliest possible opportunity.
“One bad result doesn’t make us a bad side, and we have been honest with ourselves. We have also got a few, key men back, and we are really looking forward to being back on our turf,” Morgan added.
The key men that he speaks of are not insignificant. Skipper Khaya Zondo returns from national duty, as too does Robbie Frylinck. Add to that the likes of Keshav Maharaj, who was the stand-in skipper, and a top order that wants to score heavily, and the Dolphins have all the ingredients they need for a strong performance.
However, they have a very motivated Warriors outfit to confront. What’s more, the men from Port Elizabeth are managed by a young coach who is very comfortable in the Durban area. Rivash Gobind was a Dolphins player for over a decade, and then held the assistant coach duties for Lance Klusener for a couple of seasons.
He is one of the few visiting coaches who will walk into every office at Kingsmead and greet every employee like an old friend. His rise has been a source of pride for all involved in KwaZulu-Natal cricket, because he was brave enough to go afar in order to make his dreams come true.
That tenacity seems to have rubbed off on his charges, especially when one looks at their last display against the Titans. The Warriors got the lion’s share of a draw compromised by weather, with the likes of Edward Moore returning from the Centurion lair with reputation significantly enhanced.
Moore carried his bat in the first dig, for a century, before adding a confident 73 off 84 balls in the second innings, as the Warriors looked to set a target for the four-day champions. It was a pity that the fourth innings was unable to unravel, because the Titans would have definitely been tested.
So, as much as the Dolphins may feel that they enter this match with scores to settle, they will find that their visitors are also chomping at the bit to get back out in the middle. They have some experience to fall back on, including skipper Jon-Jon Smuts and twirler Simon Harmer, and then a batch of young players emboldened by Gobind.
Durban has experienced some cracking weather in the past week, and that has provided a hard surface, which should be full of runs, and then spin later in the week. It is somewhat unusual to start a four-day match on a Monday morning, but this is the new norm in domestic cricket.
Thus, as the working class steps into the office, so too will the Dolphins and Warriors, both teams looking to be as productive as possible over the next four days. The excitement of the Mzansi Super League is most definitely on hold for the next two weeks, because the four-day title is a season-long marathon.
Both the Dolphins and Warriors are still in touch with the early pace-setters, but they would be loath to let that lead stretch out any further before the halfway break in red-ball proceedings. Play at Kingsmead starts at 9am.