The curtain has long since fallen on the 2014/15 South African domestic cricket season, leaving the Sunfoil Dolphins’ players, coaching staff and management to reflect on a year of decent yet somewhat disappointing on-field showings that has paved the way for much hard work to be done in the winter.
With the addition of national stars Imran Tahir and Ryan McLaren as well as former international spinner Thandi Tshabalala to their ranks, the men from Durban looked forward to a 2014/15 campaign that included no fewer than five competitions.
A set of results that included finishing as Global Softech 6s runners-up and Momentum One Day Cup and Sunfoil Series third place finishers suggests a decent return however head coach Lance Klusener believes his charges are capable of far more.
“We were extremely disappointed with how things went for us (in the 2014/15) season,” confirmed Klusener.
“We want to try win every competition we play in and by not achieving that we let ourselves down a bit, we let our fans down a bit and we need to be a lot better next season,” he added.
Having mentored much of the current squad through their early franchise days, Klusener believes underperformance can no longer be attributed to ‘youthful learning’ and that it is time for results.
“We want to get away from just doing ‘quite nicely’; we want to win every competition we play in or at least play on finals day.
“We need to be better and we need to get away from excuses such as ‘we’re learning’ or ‘we brought some ideas back from India’.
“We’ve proven that we can win competitions so that’s our expectation and every time we don’t do that then we’re going to be disappointed.”
The franchise’s narrow one run loss to hosts The Unlimited Titans in the final of the inaugural Global Softech 6s competition at SuperSport Park Centurion in early September represented the team’s opening challenge of the season.
Frylinck, Zondo and Delport’s impressive displays for their franchise saw them then contribute significantly towards the South African 6s team’s success in the Africa 6s Challenge that followed before the full squad then turned their attention towards the much anticipated Oppo Champions League T20.
The Sunfoil Dolphins put up brave fights against Indian Premier League giants Chennai Super Kings and Kolkata Knight Riders, Australia’s Perth Scorchers and the Lahore Lions from Pakistan without big name players David Miller, Tahir and McLaren however they sadly fell short of victory against all four of their Group A opposition and were eliminated at the end of the group stage.
Upon returning to South African shores, the Dolphins headed straight into the opening round of fixtures of the season’s Momentum One Day Cup.
Split into two halves, Durban’s stars started strongly and entered the Christmas break in second place on the log before a good second half saw the Dolphins host the finals qualifier where they again came up short against the men from Pretoria.
The abrupt end to their 50-over campaign before a disappointing fourth place finish in RAM Slam T20 – a competition they entered as defending champions – were the cause of much of Klusener’s season’s disappointment.
“It was disappointing not to win a game at the Champions League but Champions League is a different kettle of fish,” said Klusener.
“It was important to bring back some learning – which I think we did – but what was more frustrating was that we didn’t really implement that learning and put it to good use enough when we got home.”
A lengthy spell of red-ball cricket during which the Dolphins stumbled at the final hurdle saw the Durban franchise relinquish second place on the log in the final clash of the season, despite having started the previous week’s penultimate contest still with a chance of title supremacy.
Young speedster Daryn Dupavillon’s continued good form and a resurgence from all-rounder Calvin Savage and left-arm orthodox Keshav Maharaj during the six match back straight of Sunfoil Series action were however pleasing for Klusener and co. yet the blooding of a few new faces in the franchise arena such as Matt Pillans and Daniel Sincuba was also a notable element of the season finale.
“We were always going to look to blood a few new faces in four day cricket, it’s a long season, especially with six in a row at the end.
“We used the Sunfoil Series to freshen things up a bit and give some of the youngsters who have done their time the opportunity to stamp their own mark on the future of Dolphins cricket.
“It’s nice to give them a chance and hopefully we can continue to do that,” said Klusener.
In a season short of results the coaching staff and players had hoped for, there were a couple individual stand-out performances and talking points that had journalists the world over taking note, none more so than the world record opening batsmen Morné van Wyk and Cameron Delport set in Bloemfontein during the Momentum One Day Cup clash with the Chevrolet Knights.
The pair’s remarkable 367-run unbroken partnership surpassed Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid’s benchmark for the highest opening stand in topflight one-day cricket as Van Wyk amassed 175 off 171 deliveries while Delport blasted his way to 169 off just 130 balls.
Loyal Sunfoil Dolphins servant Daryn Smit reached a unique and memorable milestone of his own during the 2014/15 season as he was handed his 100th cap in both first class and list A cricket alike while Keshav Maharaj was awarded the Sunfoil Sizzler Award for the month of March after his Sunfoil Series efforts and West Indian international Dwayne Bravo graced the team with his presence during the RAM Slam T20 competition.
While many of the squad have no headed north to the UK for the winter, off-season training is officially set to get underway on Monday 1 June.