DURBAN - Al Pacino’s “Inches Speech” in the American football flick Any Given Sunday remains one of the great scenes in sports-themed films. It has been recreated in dressing-rooms all over the world and, occasionally, even in business.
As the Ram Slam T20 Challenge reaches the sharp end of the round-robin fixtures, the Dolphins’ current version of Pacino, Grant Morgan, has taken to that speech himself as he looks to guide his men into the semi-finals.
“A run here, a boundary or a wicket there, those are the inches we need,” Morgan deadpanned. “We dominate extended periods of the game and win small battles within the game, but then we lose a battle so big within the game, we can’t find that other run or that other yard,” Morgan said.
“If we add up all those small things, then I believe we will have enough to emerge victorious,” he added, leaving out the vein-popping “six inches in front of your face” bit that was crucial to Pacino in the flick.
Perhaps the Dolphins will get that version at some point this week, because the race for the last three places - to join the Titans - has got increasingly tighter. The Dolphins already know what it feels like to just miss out on the right result, having taken both the Warriors and the Lions to the very last ball.
All-rounder Rob Frylinck, who was in the heat of both those matches, refused to use a lack of match practice to explain away the defeats.
“We’ve practised as hard as we can, so we are definitely ready for those situations. If I am honest, which I always am with the team, I have to say that we could have played those situations. Some of the shots we played to get out at those stages were soft, and the balls that went for boundaries were poor,” he said.
Frylinck admitted that the last-gasp defeat to the Warriors was frustrating, especially after they had bowled so well. He also held up his hand, saying that he felt he had set up the game to finish it at the end, but failed to do so.
“We were not clinical enough, because we should have won that game. When we walked off, and I was interviewed about the hat-trick, I said we were happy with chasing 150, because we really were. We just didn’t play well enough as a team, and I thought we should have finished that game before it got into the last over,” he said.
That all said, the Dolphins believe their best cricket is still ahead of them, and are banking on peaking when it matters most.
“I don’t care where we finish in the top four, as long as it is in the top four. We have lost one or two, but the Titans also still have to do that,” Frylinck pointed out.
“I would rather lose to them now in the prelim rounds, than in the semis or finals. We don’t mind having to go to Centurion and beat them there,” he said.
The Dolphins, whose first match with the stars of Pretoria was washed out, will see the Titans on Sunday. But, before that meeting of minds and wills, they have to stay in the hunt for the semis with a win over the Lions or the Knights.
Naturally, the miserable weather has closed in on Durban, and few hold much hope of a game on Wednesday night. Seemingly, it is now a policy to hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.
The Lions, who left a wet Gauteng hoping for sun by the sea, would hardly have been cheered up as they descended into a grim-looking King Shaka International Airport.
Coach Geoff Toyana reckons just one win may prove enough for a team in the chasing pack, but you can’t win if you don’t get on the park - as the Dolphins have learnt over the past few weeks.
If play does materialise at Kingsmead, it is scheduled to start at 6pm.