Durban - New head coach Grant Morgan is looking forward to instilling his fresh philosophy in the Dolphins squad of 2016/17 and taking the Durban franchise forward with a talented crop of players.
Despite Proteas players, Kyle Abbott and David Miller, leaving the franchise to continue their careers at the Warriors and Knights respectively, Morgan backs the talent that remains.
“It is a bit of blow to lose players like Kyle (Abbott) and David (Miller) however there is a huge amount of talent still left here at the Dolphins!” Morgan enthused.
“There is no doubt that a very competitive Dolphins team will still represent the Dolphins in all formats come the start of the new season,” he added.
Morgan is also confident the strength of the province’s two provincial squads - KwaZulu-Natal and KZN Inland - during the 2015/16 season will help create a healthy competition for places in the Dolphins mix come the new season.
“Inland having performed extremely well this past season and KZN having done nicely, outside of the 50 overs competition, has also meant that there are guys waiting in the wings who are hungry to play franchise cricket.
“You never want to lose anyone - they’re like family; their blood is Dolphins green - but at the same time, their departure gives some other guys a massive opportunity to show what they can do at franchise level.”
The conclusion of the 2015/16 South African domestic season saw Mat Pillans join Surrey in England, Thandi Tshabalala retired from the game, both Daniel Sincuba and Jonathan Vandiar joined the Titans while Ryan McLaren - no longer a CSA contracted player - has opted not to sign a contract with any South African franchise for the 2016/17 season.
Former KwaZulu-Natal semi-professional contracted players Khalipha Cele (Free State) and Craig Kirsten also won’t be part of the Dolphins and KZN mix next season, while Ayavuya Myoli - previously non-contracted but who played much of the RAM Slam T20 Challenge for the Dolphins - has signed with the Highveld Lions.
Mthokozisi Shezi’s return to Durban on a permanent basis, having re-joined the Dolphins on a loan from the Cape Cobras during the second half of the 2016/17 season, is a pleasing one while exciting talents Sibonelo Makhanya, Sarel Erwee and Tshepang Dithole have all earned franchise contracts for the first time.
“I was privileged enough to coach youngsters like (Quinton) De Kock, (Temba) Bavuma and (Dominic) Hendricks while I was at the Highveld Strikers a few years ago and it is always great to see young talents like that making their way up the ladder.
“Our younger guys like Sibs (Makhanya), Andile (Phehlukwayo) and a few others are also massively exciting and certainly have the talent; for me, this season is all about trying to get them to settle,” says Morgan.
The Dolphins don’t have any reason to believe that Imran Tahir won’t turn out for them in 2016/17 however confirmation of this is only expected in the near future due to the world class leg-spinner yet to sign his CSA contract.
“The vast majority of our squad has been with us for some time now and we fully back their ability and talent to take us as a Franchise to where we want to be,” says Sunfoil Dolphins CEO, Pete de Wet.
“With Grant (Morgan) at the helm, we look forward to him harnessing this talent as best he can and helping each player, as well as our team as a whole, realise their full potential,” he adds.
Rabian Engelbrecht, Senuran Muthusamy, Brandon Scullard and Mishkal Ramsaroop have retained their KwaZulu-Natal semi-professional contracts and are joined by newcomers Smangaliso Nhlebela and Okuhle Cele with the KZN Cricket Union set to finalise negotiations with a seventh player shortly.
The evergreen Kyle Nipper, together with Graham Hume, Ruhan Pretorius, Lefa Mosena, Attie Maposa, Kushen Kishun and Cyril Mthimkhulu, has been granted a KZN Inland semi-professional contract for 2016/17.
Craig Alexander, Cody Chetty, Cameron Delport, Tshepang Dithole, Daryn Dupavillon, Sarel Erwee, Robbie Frylinck, Imraan Khan, Keshav Maharaj, Sibonelo Makhanya, Andile Phehlukwayo, Calvin Savage, Mthokozisi Shezi, Daryn Smit, Prenelan Subrayen, Vaughn van Jaarsveld, Divan van Wyk, Morné van Wyk, Khaya Zondo
Okuhle Cele, Rabian Engelbrecht, Senuran Muthusamy, Smangaliso Nhlebela, Mishkal Ramsaroop, Brandon Scullard
KZN Inland semi-professionals:
Graham Hume, Kushen Kishun, Attie Maposa, Lefa Mosena, Cyril Mthimkhulu, Kyle Nipper, Ruhan Pretorius