Captain Albie Morkel has bemoaned the batting problems of the Durban Heat in the Mzansi Super League. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix
Nothing is ever won on paper. Nothing. Ask the England football teams of 2002 to 2016. They were the so called “golden generation”. As it turned out, the only thing golden about them was their skipper for much of that period, ol’ Goldenballs himself.

If you still question the legitimacy of that statement, ask just about every American Ryder Cup team since 2002. They always have all the ranking points and money lists on their side, but they consistently find a way to look distinctly average when the greatest golf event on earth rocks up.

They freeze, and shift blame and make excuses. They seldom get hot, shift pressure or make putts. It’s uncanny. Time and time again, Europe and their supposedly no-name brands steal the show, and make off with the loot.

Now, to that inglorious list of under-achievers, it seems we can add the totally befuddling Durban Heat cricket franchise.

Take the time to just look at that 16-man squad, and then try to explain their form in the Mzansi Super League thus far. On paper the Heat looked strong enough to be serious title contenders.

Alas, they have been mere paperweights, bullied by several teams, and are now becoming a walking bonus point in every match.

It is a terrible place to be, and one that has no respite.

The matches are coming too quickly to remedy anything now. So, they are stumbling from hiding to hiding, but unable to hide away from the sheer horrors out in the middle.

Pressure also reveals a lot about players. On Wednesday night, chasing 113 in nine overs, logic and form dictated that the Durbanites had to promote one if not both of their middle-order southpaw options.

Either Albie Morkel or David Miller had to take strike ahead of the depressingly out-of-sorts Hashim Amla.

Firstly, it signals intent. But, more to the point, it may have forced Faf du Plessis to think again about chucking the new ball to Bjorn Fortuin.

The Heat thought about it, but then thought better. That is the other thing with patchy form. Everything is overthought. Over analysed.

Overlooked.

The Heat always knew their star man, Rashid Khan, was arriving in the beginning December. The plan was for him to arrive to a few wins, and then inspire a late charge into the playoffs.

Imagine his surprise when he lands, and realises even his bag of tricks can’t Houdini the Heat out of this abyss.

If has been a truly humbling fortnight in Durban, but this tournament is not done yet.

For a tournament still looking for relevance and reference, they cannot afford to finish so simply that they are playing for pride only in the final week or so.

That would make it even harder to draw an audience to a tournament still in its infancy.

The Heat are not playing just for themselves. That is a reality that they must face up to, even as they square up to rivals in an infinitely better frame of mind themselves.

They owe it to themselves to finish better than they started. But they also owe it to the sincerity of the entire competition.

Even if their own ambitions have gone up in smoke, much like paper does when introduced to heat.

@whamzam17


Sunday Tribune

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