Cape Town – Nobody
wants to reach a final by default.
seem obvious words from former Proteas coach and one-day international player
Eric Simons, but they needed to be said anyway.
SuperSport pundit was speaking in the immediate lead-up to Thursday’s intended
Ram Slam T20 Challenge semi-final between the Dolphins and Cape Cobras at
Kingsmead – even as it was already becoming painfully obvious that the weather
hoodoo would strike again.
was duly called off as persistent rain took another depressing toll on the
Durban cricket public, not to mention those wishing to see the televised action
countrywide, and the hosts shifted onward to the final by virtue of marginally
higher log position.
It meant the
sixth time in 11 intended matches this season that the KwaZulu-Natalians – the vast
majority of them at their headquarters – have featured in either abandoned or
to them, we will never know whether the Dolphins would have been truly worthy
home semi-finalists, so often were they inactive and having to bank split log
points; they did win three of five round-robin games able to be completed.
But it would
be a slightly embarrassing statistic all the same, and through no fault of
their own, if they go on to topple the imperious Titans in Saturday’s SuperSport
Park showpiece (18:00) to finish with a win percentage from 12 scheduled games
of 33.3 percent.
the weather forecast, touch wood, for Centurion is very promising for an uninterrupted
match despite it being the height of thunderstorm season on the Highveld which
brings its own cricketing challenges.
reserve day (Sunday, a 14:30 start) has been scheduled for the final anyway,
doubling the chance of the title being settled in orthodox fashion between the
But if there
is a lesson going forward, from the unsatisfactory events this season, it is
that both earlier knockout matches should also have reserve days rostered to
ensure better legitimacy and satisfaction to the competition – a situation that
should apply to the other major limited-overs one, the Momentum One Day Cup,
especially glaringly to Kingsmead, traditionally the most vulnerable venue in
the country because of its prolific summer rainfall and so extraordinarily
jinxed this season.
It was already
looking apparent very early in the week that Thursday’s semi would be
rain-affected, raising the question of why Friday couldn’t have been set aside as
additional “cover” for a contest – at the time of writing, that day was looking
infinitely better from a dryness point of view in Durban as well.
have been worse crimes, even if the final had to stay a Saturday affair, for
the winners of a Friday semi to make the short flight afterwards to the
Highveld for the showpiece, even if some element of tiredness would have been
in play for the side playing the Titans.
after all, the domestic T20 competition has traditionally had a seemingly
popular “finals day” at a long pre-arranged neutral venue, where all three
knockout matches are played over a period from morning to night and before a
be the harm in creating that environment in South Africa … and also taking the
pure common-sense step of ensuring that it is at a ground (the major Cape
venues of Newlands and St George’s Park come to mind) where summer weather is
usually the most settled by far?
In the old
days, regardless of who the contestants were, the final of South African
one-day competitions like the former Nissan Shield used to be played automatically
at the Wanderers, so it is not as if a precedent is lacking.
well worth CSA discussing more seriously the possibility of either turning the
Bullring back into some sort of Lord’s-type focal point for domestic finals, or
even the appealing prospect of Newlands, where interruptions in mid-summer are
few and far between and spectator interest in the game as a whole is arguably
better than anywhere else nationwide.
rotational policy over the final(s) venue could also be implemented, especially
if competitions are played at slightly differing times of the season every
year, potentially making weather-related issues less of a concern in some
that the current Ram Slam T20 Challenge wasn’t initially earmarked for this
pre-Christmas slot, only seizing it after the Global League cancellation
Heck, it might
even bring Kingsmead into the picture as a showpiece host …
*Follow our chief
writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing