Durban - Old Mother Hubbard may have found her cupboard bare, but Dolphins supporters are beginning to find that well ... the players are just not there, with news of Proteas batsman David Miller departing for the Knights next season, plus Jonathan Vandiar and Daniel Sincuba joining the Titans.
Miller’s departure follows barely a week after fellow Protea Kyle Abbott announced he would be playing his cricket out of the Eastern Cape in 2016/17, joining the Warriors, meaning the Dolphins theoretically have Imran Tahir as their remaining bastion in the national set-up.
Miller, a product of Maritzburg College, is a true son of the province, born, bred and schooled on its soil, not forgetting he has played his entire domestic cricket under its banner.
Ever since Dolphins coach Lance Klusener was ousted earlier this year, there have been fingers pointed at the Dolphins franchise and now, to many observers, the departure of Miller and Abbott strengthens any misgivings and accusations. It’s a case of we told you so and this is a clear indication that there is indeed something rotten within the corridors, offices and boardrooms of Kingsmead.
However, Dolphins CEO Pete de Wet, while harbouring disappointment, has lifted the load onto his shoulders and is prepared to march on, every step one in the right direction.
“Obviously it is a disappointment and a worry when two players of such pedigree and support move on so soon after each other,” he said.
“Unfortunately, in today’s world of professional sport, these decisions do get made and people are entitled to make them. It does happen but it’s not great.”
De Wet said he was aware of Miller wanting to move on and had been in long chats and discussions with him.
“I believe David has made the decision for the right reasons. His words to me were he needed a shake-up in his cricket career and it would be better to approach this away from Kingsmead,” said De Wet.
“We cannot argue or disagree with that and in the end, we support him. He wants to challenge himself and improve as a cricketer.”
In the past few months, besides the Klusener incident and the departure of Abbott and Miller, De Wet acknowledged there had been changes within the franchise and while the waters looked ruffled and unsafe right now, calm and prosperity lay on the horizon.
“There’s no denying there has been change and it has all been done with the grander goal of improving Dolphins cricket,” he said. “While most people will be up in arms over this latest development, let’s look at this rather as a journey the franchise needs to undertake in looking ahead. The bigger picture is exciting times ahead, rather than doom and gloom, all is lost.
“Announcement of a new coach is due soon and while we are downbeat at the loss of two iconic players, there is excitement for the new season, with discussions already underway with key players from fellow franchises to consider playing their cricket in Durban.”
Despite all these “movements” within weeks of the domestic season finishing, De Wet remains positive that Dolphins cricket has made progress in the right direction. “Our aim is to be the number one franchise in the country and we have positively moved forward. People have a perception of matters not being all well in the camp but if that was the case, we would be fixing things,” he said. “All is well and the window period for players moving to different franchises closes at the end of April, still allowing us time to hopefully add some new players.”
While supporting Miller’s move, De Wet said he sadly saw Abbott’s departure as more of a point to prove in light of the Klusener dismissal. Vandiar and Sincuba’s move must surely be to get more opportunity as the pair have made sporadic appearances in the senior side and could be seen as the forgotten breed of Dolphins players.
Vandiar was tutored under Ray Jennings at the Lions and had huge potential. He started well at the Dolphins but poor performances and lack of confidence have been his worst enemies and with Titans coach Rob Walter offering a promise of more opportunities, the move is obvious.
Sincuba, as a keeper/batsman, is third in line to captain Morné van Wyk and the experienced Daryn Smit. There was no point in him sitting rotting in Durban and, like Vandiar, if there is a chance to get more senior team games elsewhere, then it is time to pack the bags.
As for team selection and quota systems, De Wet pointed out that all franchises dealt with the same procedures and it was something cricket had to embrace.
“We are all in the same boat and I believe we, as the Dolphins, have made progress here. Our selections reflect that and our immediate goal is to focus on what lies ahead, starting with a new coach and fitting the pieces together from there,” he said.