Joint winners and second-last finishers in the 2017-18 season’s Momentum One Day Cup and Ram Slam T20 Challenge, respectively, the Durban-based Dolphins will want to improve on a previous first-class campaign assistant coach Imraan Khan recently labelled ‘the most disappointing.’
Just one win in 10 Sunfoil Series matches saw the Dolphins occupy fifth position in the six-team standings. That lone victory was over the Warriors in a low-scoring affair at St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth, where fast bowler Kerwin Mungroo starred with a first-innings five-for – and spinner Keshav Maharaj clinched a second-innings seven-for. The left-handed Vaughn van Jaarsveld was the Dolphins’ top run-scorer, with 898 in 18 innings. Spinner Senuran Muthusamy snared their most wickets – 33 in 10 matches.
Proteas batsman David Miller is a high-profile returnee. Miller spent two seasons at the Knights before coming back to the Dolphins. He has withdrawn from first-class competition for the foreseeable future, though, so won’t be available for the Four-Day Franchise Series.
Having lost the veteran Daryn Smit and Kyle Abbott in past seasons, the Dolphins haven’t leaked any major names this year. They will, however, need to effectively manage the consistent coming and going of Maharaj, whose international duty will obviously take precedent over franchise cricket.
One to watch
The talented Jason Oakes was named the KwaZulu-Natal Cricket Union Player of the Season in May – and will challenge fellow wicketkeeper-batsman Grant Roelofsen for a permanent berth in the first-choice XI until the experienced Dane Vilas returns from Lancashire.
Solid bench strength across the KwaZulu-Natal Inland and KwaZulu-Natal Coastal ranks suggest the Dolphins will cope without Miller and, for the most part, Maharaj at first-class level – and should improve on last season’s fifth-place finish. Third or fourth beckons, but probably not second or first.