Dolphins coach Imraan Khan believes it was a fair call to award his team the One-Day Cup title after they were named champions earlier this week.
The KwaZulu-Natal franchise finished top of the regular season table with 30 points, two more than the Lions after 10 matches, and were busy preparing for the semi-finals when the 2019-20 term was prematurely terminated due to the global coronavirus pandemic.
Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) Board of Directors and Members’ Council both endorsed recommendations of the Interim Director of Cricket, Graeme Smith, that tournament titles for the campaign should be awarded in accordance with log standings across the men’s franchise and senior provincial tournaments as well as the women’s leagues.
That decision handed the Dolphins the title, the second time in three seasons they were the winners after sharing the trophy with the Warriors in 2017-18.
Khan was pleased with the decision, which allowed him to celebrate his first major trophy in his maiden season as a head coach.
‘Unfortunately, we couldn’t finish the playoffs,’ he said. ‘But I think the performances over the campaign probably deserve the recognition that’s been given to us.
‘We don’t make the rules and decide the outcomes, it’s been decided by those that govern the game. But I think it’s a fair conclusion because we were the team that finished on top of the standings.
‘In terms of cancelling the remainder of the season, I think it was the right call that was made. If you look at what is happening in world sport at the moment, it made absolute sense for us to cancel the season.
‘I mean the safety of players, officials and spectators is paramount to the game and more important than anything else at this point in time.’
Barring that shared trophy with the Warriors two seasons, back this was the first time in the franchise era – nearly 20 years – that the Dolphins also claimed the 50-over trophy outright.
The last time they solely took ownership of the prize was way back in 2001/02 when Dale Benkenstein’s KZN beat a Western Province team led by Neil Johnson by 28 runs in Durban.
The home captain struck an unbeaten 77 on that day, while Andrew Tweedie claimed four for 33.
This time around, it was the spinners that fired for the Dolphins as Keshav Maharaj excelled, along with Prenelan Subrayen and Senuran Muthusamy. Their stand-out batsmen were Grant Roelofsen and Sarel Erwee.
‘I think the boys have played a good campaign,’ Khan beamed. ‘From a batting perspective, you know you had a guy like Grant who obviously stood out and then from the bowling side, Keshav Maharaj was an outstanding bowler for us, both as captain and with the ball.
‘But I think if you’re looking at the campaign holistically, then guys stood up at different times when they were needed most to get us over the line. So, it was a collective effort.
‘And even in games that we lost, they were really close, they were hard-fought games, so I think we played good cricket consistently for the full campaign.’
All celebrations, however, for now remain on ice due to the 21-day national lockdown that has been installed by President Cyril Ramaphosa to try and curb the spread of the coronavirus. Before the lockdown, gatherings were discouraged by government, meaning Khan has not had a chance to revel with his team in their success.
But he adds: ‘I think we will celebrate when we do get back together as a group. For now, guys are on their own doing their own things and taking care.’
Photo: Gallo Images