Sunfoil Dolphins leg-spinner Imran Tahir flew the flag for the KwaZulu-Natal franchise at the Cricket South Africa Awards in Sandton on Tuesday evening when he claimed the Oxigen T20 International Cricketer of the Year spoils and a nomination for CSA Cricketer of the Year, a category ultimately won by young Kagiso Rabada whose six accolades saw him claim the lion’s share of the night’s spoils.
While Tahir ensured the Dolphins enjoyed a slice of the evening’s limelight, the KwaZulu-Natal Inland trio – head coach Shane Burger and senior stars Kyle Nipper and Sarel Erwee – and emerging talent Jade de Figueiredo were also recognized for their efforts at amateur level at the CSA Breakfast Awards held earlier in the day.
Under Burger’s watch, the KZN Inland unit enjoyed a sublime 2015/16 Provincial season, clinching both the Sunfoil Cup 3-Day and CSA Provincial T20 Challenge titles.
As such, few were surprised by Burger’s recognition as Pitchvision Semi-Professional Coach of the Year.
“It is obviously a great honour to receive this award and it is nice to get recognition for all the hard work you put in as a coach,” said Burger.
“Had the opportunity to change the award to a Team of the Year award rather than a Coach of the Year came my way I would take that instead though,” he added, underpinning the KZN Inland Provincial side’s focus on a developing team-first culture.
Nipper’s Sunfoil Cup Three-Day Cricketer of the Year and Erwee’s CSA Provincial T20 Challenge Cricketer of the Year awards and Graham Hume (both 3-Day and T20) and Mbasa Gqadushe (CSA Provincial One-Day Cricketer of the Year) nominations further demonstrated the benefits Inland has enjoyed through the team’s all-for-one attitude.
“We’ve definitely done something right up at Inland over the past couple of seasons and our senior players have all played a vital role in our success, so it is great to see so many of their contributions being recognized at national level.
“Mbasa (Gqadushe) took over as over captain, Humey is a massive stalwart in our team, Divan (van Wyk) played a big role for us while Nips and SJ (Erwee) are true Maritzburg boys at heart who have both been part of the Inland set up for a long, long time,” explained Burger.
Nipper’s triumph comes as his second CSA Award in as many years with him having clinched the One-Day Cricketer of the Year accolade at last year’s banquet.
“Winning the Three-Day Cricketer of the Year award this year is truly a great honour and really means a lot to me having won the 1-Day award last year,” said Nipper. “It proves that the hard work that all of us have put in at Inland is hugely worthwhile.”
“I may have won the award but this is not just for me. If it wasn’t for my team mates who have backed me and put me in the positions that they have, I would never have been where I am and we wouldn’t have won the trophies that we have.
“What we’ve done a unit is something special – to win two out of three competitions is massive for a small union like us and we hope to keep adding to that this season,” he added.
De Figueiredo received the CSA U19 Girls Player of the Tournament award while KZN’s Senuran Muthusamy (Africa T20 Cup Rising Star) and Kevin Pietersen (RAM Slammer of the Tournament) also received nominations.