DURBAN – The KZN Dolphins have made a habit of spending their winters in the company of the Knights, and this year is no different.
While the Proteas toil in the sweltering heat of the sub-continent, the Dolphins are in the freezing KZN Midlands, being put through their paces by their fitness trainers, even before they go back to bat and ball.
In the sleepy confines of Hilton, the Dolphins have spent the past few days looking to build their way to a season of success, after last term’s step in the right direction.
It is a source of real pride that they shared the 50-over trophy with the Warriors, but the manner of their capitulation in the T20 final against the Titans was a sore point.
More than just building towards the season though, the winter getaway has been to help several members of the squad get ready for national duty over the next few weeks.
The Dolphins have four representatives for the South Africa ‘A’ tour to India, with Khaya Zondo captaining both the four day and limited-overs teams, and Senuran Muthusamy and SJ Erwee in both squads.
Rob Frylinck is in the limited-overs squad for the triangular series.
On top of that, Grant Morgan has been rewarded for his domestic consistency with the assistant-coach role for the trip, working with former Proteas minder Russell Domingo.
“It’s probably my turn now to help out with a national side, and I am looking forward to the chance to go to India, a place I have never been before,” Morgan said.
“I have been involved with an Indian team, the Royal Challengers Bangalore – however, that IPL was hosted in South Africa, so I didn’t get to travel.
“I have been to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, so I am familiar with the sub-continent – just not India.”
Morgan added that he was looking forward to performing the role of the assistant, because it was right in the heart of things. “It’s a job where you have to roll your sleeves up and get involved. It’s a position where you need to be able to take a bit of pressure off the head coach.
“Luckily, I have also worked with about 80% of the squad at some stage during their careers, so I know the majority of the guys.”
Once Morgan and the travellers return, the hard work begins in earnest for the 2018/19 campaign.
Their big coup in the winter has been the return of David Miller to his home province, and the Proteas southpaw knows that he needs a big season domestically, with a World Cup less than a year away.
Miller, however, may not be around too much for the Dolphins.
Already, he has been to Canada for their inaugural T20 tournament, and he will be jetting off this weekend to Sri Lanka ahead of the limited-overs portion of the trip for the Proteas.
Alongside him in Sri Lanka will be Andile Phehlukwayo, who endured a tough bout of second-season syndrome last term. Short of runs and wickets, he has a big summer ahead of him if he too is to secure a place in the World Cup squad.
Imran Tahir is probably in his final season with the Dolphins, given his age and the big push towards the World Cup. He remains hungry for success, and greater availability from him will not hurt the Dolphins’ ambitions one bit.
But, before the season rolls in, the Dolphins have work to do in the parched and cold hills of the Midlands.
After that, they will touch base with the Knights again, for golf, cricket and a sincere working over before the season begins.