The Hollywoodbets Dolphins head to the Eastern Cape this week eager to get their 2016/17 South African domestic cricket season underway with an opening Sunfoil Series assignment against the Warriors at Buffalo Park, East London on Wednesday.
After a lengthy and successful pre-season campaign, Head Coach Grant Morgan and his Hollywoodbets Dolphins team welcome the arrival of the new season and the start of a new era for the KwaZulu-Natal Franchise.
“We’ve had a nice build-up to the season where we did all the preparation that was needed and have now reached the point where there is only so much preparation you can do and then it’s time to pull the trigger,” explains Morgan.
“It’s a relief to finally get to our first proper game that will count and we’re really excited to get going against the Warriors on Wednesday,” he added.
Morgan has named a 14-man squad for the season’s opening two fixtures that also see the men from Durban having to overcome an unusually short turnaround time between four-day assignments.
An opening encounter against the Warriors from 5-8 October is followed by a subsequent trip to Senwes Park in Kimberley for their 11-14 October clash against the bizhub Highveld Lions.
Led by regular skipper Morné van Wyk, who spent the bulk of the second half of last season side-lined by injury, the squad boasts good Franchise experience through the likes of Imraan Khan, Daryn Smit, Vaughn van Jaarsveld, Craig Alexander, Robbie Frylinck, Khaya Zondo, Keshav Maharaj and Mthokozisi Shezi.
There is also room for emerging talents Sarel Erwee, Sibonelo Makhanya, Calvin Savage, Rabian Engelbrecht and Tshepang Dithole for the two-match tour.
“We’ve put stricter fitness criteria in place this season and I’m really pleased that everyone passed these and Daryn Dupavillon – who is still recovering from his shoulder surgery – is the only player not considered due to injury,” says Morgan.
“Although it is the start of a new season, when selecting this squad we were mindful of the potentially high volume of work our bowlers may be faced with through the rare situation of having two fixtures within just eleven days.
“As such, we’ve included a few extra options in the bowling department but all-in-all there is a really good balance to our squad.
“We may lack a couple of superstars and we’re realistic about having lost seven or eight players from last year as well as Andile Phehlukwayo now to the national side, but we’ve still got enough depth in the province to succeed.
“We’re a side that has a really good ‘middle class’ group of players and have adopted the mindset that we’re a bit of a ‘blue-collar’ outfit that is prepared to work that little bit harder for results rather than rely on individual brilliance.”
The Hollywoodbets Dolphins travel to East London on Tuesday ahead of their Wednesday to Saturday match against the Warriors.
They then travel directly to Potchefstroom for their second round fixture against the bizhub Highveld Lions before taking on their third consecutive away game of the season when they face up to the Multiply Titans at Supersport Park Centurion from 20-23 October.
The Hollywoodbets Dolphins first 2016/17 home game takes place from 27-30 October when their fourth round Sunfoil Series clash against the VKB Knights takes place at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead in Durban.
In the meantime though, KwaZulu-Natal fans are urged to get their tickets for Wednesday, 5 October’s international match that sees the Standard Bank Proteas take on Australia in the third match of the Momentum ODI Series. Tickets for this can be purchased online at www.ticketpros.co.za or from the stadium’s ticket office.
HOLLYWOODBETS DOLPHINS SQUAD:
Morné van Wyk (captain), Craig Alexander, Tshepang Dithole, Rabian Engelbrecht, Sarel Erwee, Robbie Frylinck, Imraan Khan, Keshav Maharaj, Sibonelo Makhanya, Calvin Savage, Mthokozisi Shezi, Daryn Smit, Vaughn van Jaarsveld, Khaya Zondo