CAPE TOWN – “We tend to forget that a draw is also a result,” says former Proteas coach Russell Domingo.
With the fifth round of Sunfoil Series matches set to start on Monday, there has been lots of debate within cricket circles about the unusual occurrence that no franchise team has as yet managed to achieve an outright victory.
Twelve matches have been played with all ending up in a stalemate.
Last season’s runners-up, the Titans, currently lead the table on 57.42 points – just 4.54 points ahead of the defending champions, the Knights.
But there is an overall bun-fight, with the last-placed Dolphins just nine points behind on 48.42.
Domingo, though, who is now the South Africa “A” coach and attends at least one Sunfoil Series match each round, does not believe the lack of victories should be viewed in a negative light.
He believes there are a number of contributing factors, most notably the fact that the rule changes for this season allows a team to gain six points for a drawn result.
In the past, teams were only allocated bonus points (batting and bowling) if the match ended in a draw.
“I really think we need to look a little bit further and not just get all excited that teams haven’t yet won, and that there is no outright pace-setter. I think that means all the teams are competitive and pushing each other to their limits,” Domingo told Independent Media.
“Also, we also tend to forget that a draw is also a result. And that’s why I like the idea of teams gaining six points for a draw.
“Teams are now fighting until the very end and showing character on that last day. In the first round, we saw some exciting cricket, where both teams battled for the victory. Teams are not rolling over anymore.”
External factors such as the weather have also contributed to the drawn results, with time being taken out of matches due to rain and bad light in some parts of the country, most notably in Cape Town, Oudsthoorn, Durban and Pietermaritzburg.
However, the incredible form shown by the batsmen during the opening four rounds, who have taken full advantage of good batting surfaces, has also been significant. Thus far, 34 centuries – which includes two double centuries from Dean Elgar (234 not out) and Rudi Second (203 not out) – have been struck.
Theunis de Bruyn and Pieter Malan have also hit 195 each respectively.
In comparison, Cobras left-armer Michael Cohen (5/107), Knights medium-pacer Shadley van Schalkwayk (5/30), Lions left-arm spinner Bjorn Fortuin (6/78) and Titans medium-pacer Malusi Siboto (5/51) are the only four bowlers thus far to claim five-wicket hauls in the competition.
No bowler has claimed a “10-fer” yet in a match.
“There is a no doubt that the pitches are ‘batsmen-friendly’ and at the moment, the bowlers have to work harder for wickets than previously,” Domingo said.
“But batsmen are also not gifting their wickets away and really taking full advantage once they have negotiated the new ball and settled in at the crease.
“Regarding the concern about the bowlers… I think it is a domino effect due to a host of injuries the national team are currently experiencing.
“There are close to about five bowlers… if not more… out at the moment. That automatically means five franchise bowlers are drafted up to the Proteas, and five more bowlers need to be sourced from the level below for the franchise sides.
“That means there are young and inexperienced bowlers who will still need to learn their trade and gain experience at the next level,” Domingo explained.
The former Proteas mentor also believes the new structure of the Sunfoil Series will develop more “thinking captains”, for they now have a greater responsibility to be “inventive and attacking” if they wanting to gain maximum points from a win.
Rudi Second (Knights): Matches 4, Runs 467, HS 203, Ave 233.50, 100s: 2, 50s: 2
Dean Elgar (Titans): Matches 2, Runs 397, HS 237*, Ave 198.50, 100s: 2, 50s: 0
Pieter Malan (Cape Cobras): Matches 4, Runs 390, HS 195, Ave 65.0, 100s: 2, 50s: 0
Jon-Jon Smuts (Warriors): Matches 4, Runs 380, HS 117, Ave 54.28, 100s: 1, 50s: 3
Yaseen Vallie (Warriors): Matches 4, Runs 375, HS 150, Ave 55.88, 100s: 1, 50s: 3
Sunfoil Series Fixtures
Cape Cobras v Dolphins, Oudtshoorn
Knights v Warriors, Kimberley
Highveld Lions v Titans, Wanderers