Friday, 06 December 2019

Jozi Stars coach Donovan Miller has no doubt that his team are still a united bunch, saying he is hopeful they will still be able to give their fans a happy send-off in their final two matches of the Mzansi Super League (MSL) season.

The defending champions host the play-off chasing Durban Heat at the Imperial Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg on Saturday, their last home match of what has been a disastrous 2019 campaign in which they have failed to win a single game.

The Stars lost seven matches in a row to start MSL 2.0, before finally landing some points in round eight when rain washed out their clash with the Tshwane Spartans, resulting in a share of the spoils. It was the first points that Miller managed to secure since replacing Enoch Nkwe as coach.

The Jamaican is now bidding to gain a few more points when they take on the Durbanites home and then away next Tuesday.

“You still have to try and stick together,” he said about their poor season. “When you’re losing, things can fall apart quickly, but even if you go to the changeroom now, you’ll still see the togetherness.

“The boys are messing around in there like kids playing football. So the energy is still high, we still have two games to go and we’ll still give it our best shot.

“Hopefully we’ll be able to give the fans a win before we finish.”

Miller has also been reflecting on what went wrong in the current campaign.

His biggest reason for their downfall was the fact that other teams had improved so much compared to 12 months ago.

“Things obviously haven’t gone to plan for us, but these things do happen in cricket,” he added. “On many occasions we were in positions to win games with both bat and ball, but somehow we let the opposition in.

“This year teams have more depth on their batting and in their bowling.

“Last year where we would have won those games, this year because of the strength in depth within teams they have come back and won those games.

For the Heat, they know that only one thing will matter at the Bullring on Saturday – victory!

Gary Kirsten’s men are presently fourth on the standings with two matches to play. They have 18 points compared to the two teams immediately above them – the Spartans (21) and the Paarl Rocks (23), who both have just one game to play.

Leaders the Nelson Mandela Bay Giants (23) with two games maybe out of their reach. So essentially, two wins for the Heat will put them in the play-offs.

They have reached this position by winning their last three games, which came after a slow start to the season. Captain Dane Vilas is happy that they are peaking at the right time.

“In any tournament, you always want to be playing your best cricket at the end of the competition,” he said. “Hopefully we keep peaking, we keep going and we continue to play good cricket.

“We’re playing some incredible cricket at the moment and we’re really excited about the next few days.”

The Jozi Stars squad: Kagiso Rabada, Rassie van der Dussen, Reeza Hendricks, Daniel Christian, Temba Bavuma (capt), Duanne Olivier, Shoaib Malik, Simon Harmer, Ryan Rickelton, Aaron Phangiso, Lizaad Williams, Sinethemba Qeshile, Nono Pongolo, Jacques Snyman, Delano Potgieter, Dane Paterson. 

The Durban Heat squad: Andile Phehlukwayo, Alex Hales, David Miller, Dane Vilas (capt), Ravi Bopara, Keshav Maharaj, Kyle Abbott, Khaya Zondo, Marco Jansen, Daryn Dupavillon, Sarel Erwee, Malusi Siboto, Prenelan Subrayen, Wihan Lubbe, Shaun von Berg, Wesley Marshall.