Weather or not, pos­i­tive cricket’s the way to go

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - STUART HESS

PER­HAPS only once the Sun­foil Se­ries is over can it be de­ter­mined whether the lack of a sin­gle dom­i­nant side has been good or bad for the com­pe­ti­tion.

In the nor­mal scheme of things, af­ter seven or eight rounds of the com­pe­ti­tion, a clear pic­ture would have emerged about a po­ten­tial cham­pion.

That is not the case this sea­son, with five teams still very much in the mix and the sixth, the Cape Co­bras, need­ing to go on a run no team has man­aged this sea­son.

The Co­bras have three games left and in all like­li­hood have to win all three if they are to lift the four­day tro­phy. That would be highly un­likely for a num­ber of rea­sons – not least of which has been the up­heaval in their dress­ing room.

How­ever, no team af­ter eight rounds – in the case of the Dol­phins and Lions – and seven for the rest has won more than two games.

The ma­jor rea­son for this has been the weather, which has not been con­ducive to cricket be­ing played and a re­sult a lot of the time has been lost be­cause of rain and in the case of one match be­tween the Ti­tans and the Knights, the whole match was rained out be­fore even a coin had been tossed.

It’s left a log where 13 points separates first from fifth and it has been that way for most of the sea­son.

There is a dan­ger that who­ever wins the com­pe­ti­tion could al­most do it by de­fault, which is why it is so im­por­tant that the fi­nal few weeks of the tour­na­ment brings re­sults – no draws, and most im­por­tantly, matches are com­pleted.

The Ti­tans slipped back to sec­ond place last week when the Dol­phins got the bet­ter of a draw against the Lions.

From this morn­ing the de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons will host the Co­bras at Su­perS­port Park, where the vis­i­tors will try and con­tinue their re­vival fol­low­ing the coach­ing change at the end of last month.

Ash­well Prince has had his men away on yet an­other team-build­ing ex­er­cise as they look to ar­rest a slide that saw them pro­duce some piti­ful per­for­mances in the first half of the sea­son.

They picked up their first win of the tour­na­ment in Oudt­shoorn in the first week of 2017 and seem to be talk­ing a good game since as they seek to make an im­pres­sion in the lat­ter stages.

It’s been a rough five weeks for the Ti­tans, not be­cause they’ve played badly just that they’ve played so lit­tle.

There was the rain-out in Bloem­fontein and then a hard­fought draw against a bat­tling Lions side in Benoni.

The lack of wins for any team has placed an em­pha­sis on ev­ery­one play­ing some pos­i­tive cricket in the fi­nal rounds to try and force a vic­tory.

It’s a sen­ti­ment Mark Boucher, the Ti­tans coach, has shared with his side as they at­tempt to re­gain their spot atop the log.

“We’ve got to back our­selves and we can’t be afraid of los­ing. We’d rather go out there and try and win the com­pe­ti­tion,” said Boucher.

“It’s an ex­cit­ing brand of cricket to play, but hope­fully our skills will be able to pull us through.

“We can’t con­trol the weather, un­for­tu­nately, but we can con­trol how we play our game and our mind­set.”

With a host of call-ups to the na­tional team, Boucher has had to dig into the Ti­tans’ re­sources to field a side ca­pa­ble of play­ing the style he wants.

Heino Kuhn’s been in­cluded in the squad and it’s hoped he can make it back in time from Cape Town where he rep­re­sented the Proteas in the fi­nal T20 In­ter­na­tional against Sri Lanka last night.

While the na­tional call-ups have hit hard, the re­turn of Dean El­gar, fresh off a Man of the Se­ries show­ing in the Tests against An­gelo Mathews’ men, gives a sig­nif­i­cant lift to the Ti­tans.

The Co­bras are with­out Dane Pater­son, but have in­cluded Rory Klein­veldt, while Om­phile Ramela re­turns to the squad af­ter the birth of his first child.

In the other match this week, the War­riors head to Bloem­fontein to face a Knights side that has lots of in­ter­na­tional ex­pe­ri­ence.

Be­sides skip­per The­u­nis de Bruyn, who will rush back af­ter last night’s T20 match at New­lands, Duanne Olivier re­turns af­ter mak­ing his Test de­but and will take the new ball with Marchant de Lange, while Rilee Ros­souw has also been in­cluded in the home side’s squad af­ter he’d given up the op­por­tu­nity to play in­ter­na­tional cricket by agree­ing to a Kol­pak con­tract with Hamp­shire.

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