DURBAN - Amid the gloomy weather that seems to be following them wherever they go, the Dolphins have received a timely ray of sunshine in the past week, with the return to action of star batsman Vaughn van Jaarsveld.
The top-order powerhouse was ruled out of the start of the RamSlam T20 Challenge by a back injury, but has made good progress with the physio and returned to the field in a club game on Sunday.
“It felt good to be back on the park. The rain reduced it to a 32-over game, and I fielded without a problem, then batted and made 50,” Van Jaarsveld said on Tuesday.
Since that game on the weekend, he proved his fitness again in an internal warm-up fixture at Kingsmead, opening the batting and also fielding the full 20 overs. There was no pain in his back, and he is now itching to get a chance in the Challenge.
Van Jaarsveld was pencilled in to travel with the squad to Benoni last Friday, but the medical team thought better of it and opted for him to have a tune-up closer to home before going back into full throttle cricket.
Given the searing form that he enjoyed during the Sunfoil Series, his back problem couldn’t have come at a more untimely moment.
“Obviously you never know with changes of format, but I was feeling really good in the Sunfoil Series. I guess everything happens for a reason,” he said philosophically.
In his absence, the Dolphins have leant on the likes of Sarel Erwee and Kolpak signing Dane Vilas, but few in the domestic game can lacerate a ball with the same force as Van Jaarsveld. As much as he has missed being involved, the team has missed his considerable presence, too.
“It’s been very frustrating, I must say. As a professional sportsman all you want to do is to be on the park, so it was tough to be on the sidelines. The rain made it even more frustrating to watch, but that is not something that we can control,” he bemoaned.
The left-hander returns at squeaky-bum time in the competition, with the Dolphins in a sincere battle for a semi-final spot. Though they lie second, they know that the next fortnight is crucial if they are to advance.
“I just want to be out there helping the Dolphins, and also proving those people who have doubted us wrong. We were chatting with a few guys and they said we may only need to win two or three more matches to go through,” he explained.
“But I want us to win all five and show that the Dolphins are a team on the rise. Obviously the weather hasn’t gone our way, but we are keen to play and to win on Friday night, and then onto next week.”
The weather has been a perennial drip for the Dolphins and their fans, but hope springs eternal that they can start again when they host the Cobras. It was against the men from Cape Town that they announced themselves as contenders in the competition, and they will look to get their second wind going against them, too.
As impressive as the Dolphins were in that opener at Centurion, they will feel confident of being even better now, with Van Jaarsveld back, and Imran Tahir in full cry, too. Everything is in place, as long as the dreaded rain stays away.
The Dolphins host the Cobras at Kingsmead, with the scheduled start at 6pm on Friday.