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