DURBAN – Late into Wednesday night, Albie Morkel cut a disappointed figure in the post-match presser for the Durban Heat and Paarl Rocks.
Next to him, Faf du Plessis smiled and spoke of how these things – these nine-over shootout things – can be a lottery, and how they suited opener Henry Davids right down to the ground.
While the visitors thrived, and their openers plundered, the Heat floundered and crashed to their third loss in four matches.
They lost by 32 runs on Wednesday, a scarcely believable chasm in a nine-over shootout. That gave the Rocks a bonus point, which could hurt the Heat down the line.
“I think everyone is well aware of what our issues are,” Morkel sighed.
It was a deep sigh, and one that even got a sympathetic nod from Du Plessis.
“Our top-order hadn’t given us a platform to build from, and without that, we have found it difficult,” Morkel continued.
It is a stark honesty, a gaping hole in a team that looked to be well-equipped upfront. And yet, two weeks into a tournament they were considered potential winners of, they are starting to drown in a sea of uncertainty.
Runs win T20 matches, and the desperate shortage of such from the Heat has seen them sink to the bottom of the table.
“At this stage, it has become a personal thing. The coach and I can’t say too much more,” Morkel explained.
He challenged his men to look sternly at themselves and find something more. That is now a priority, because they are almost at the halfway stage of their round-robin fixtures.
“We are playing a few games in a row right now, so maybe that will help. It just needs a stroke of luck – a nick through the slips, and everything changes.”
Morkel remains optimistic, but there is a dose of reality settling into the Durban Heat thinking.
They considered switching the batting card for the pursuit of 113, but then decided against it. In hindsight, at 6/2 after one over, they might as well have done so.
There is a crisis of confidence at the top of the order, and there will have to be some hard choices made.
They find themselves at the foot of the table now, and that reality alone must shake them into action.
If they still harbour serious ambitions to be in the latter stages, and give overseas star Rashid Khan something to bowl towards, they need to get a hustle on.
Khan arrives on the weekend. It would be a complete waste of firepower if he arrived to a wooden spoon scrap, instead of a pursuit for a playoff place, and then a trophy.
Simply put, the Heat need to find a match, and set their Mzansi Super League challenge on fire, starting against Jozi Stars at the Wanderers on Friday evening (7pm).
Up to this point, they have been stone cold.