Fran­chises suf­fer as Ti­tans put acres of space be­tween them and the rest

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - RACING -

IF WE cut the Ti­tans in two, and told them that they had to play against each other, there is ev­ery chance that the fi­nal of the RAM SLAM T20 Chal­lenge would take place in Pre­to­ria, be­tween Pre­to­ri­ans.

It is not the fault of Jacques Faul the CEO, or coach Mark Boucher or, in­deed, any of the mas­sive stars who cur­rently call Cen­tu­rion home.

But, the re­sult of all of this is that the sheer chasm in qual­ity is threat­en­ing to turn the com­pe­ti­tion into a race for run­ners-up. Dol­phins’ coach Grant Mor­gan re­minded those who were lis­ten­ing that sport is a funny thing, and if we were so sure the Ti­tans will win the whole thing, we might as well pack up and give them the tro­phy now.

Of course, in a for­mat as freak­ish as T20 cricket, there is no absolute cer­tainty.

But, let’s just con­sider the man­ner in which the Ti­tans have can­tered their way home, what­ever the sit­u­a­tion.

If it wasn’t the top or­der blow­ing peo­ple away, it was the mid­dle-or­der steer­ing the ship back onto calmer wa­ters, and then run­ning amok them­selves.

The likes of Ai­den Markram, Farhaan Be­har­dien and Malusi Si­boto were the stars of their run to the tro­phy last sea­son, but they have al­most be­come bit-part play­ers with the heavy ar­tillery back on the park.

Messrs De Vil­liers, De Kock and Steyn would add gloss to any in­ter­na­tional team, but their col­lec­tive pres­ence in a do­mes­tic fran­chise bor­ders on bul­ly­ing.

The team man­age­ment is prob­a­bly grate­ful Morne Morkel, Chris Mor­ris and Faf du Plessis are cur­rently side­lined, be­cause the se­lec­tion headache is not as se­vere as it could be.

It is an em­bar­rass­ment of such riches that the best opener in Test cricket has be­come a bar­man again, and looks very un­likely to get a look in.

Let’s not even touch on Heino Kuhn, who can’t even sniff a game with the Proteas away.

At what point does the line get drawn, and some of those brood­ing on the bench given a chance to loan their ser­vices out to a fran­chise in need?

Surely, if the ul­ti­mate point of our fran­chise game is to have a strong base from which to pluck Proteas, then it serves no pur­pose to have qual­ity play­ers on the side­lines?

Again, this is no fault of the Ti­tans, who are sim­ply reap­ing the re­wards for a good de­vel­op­ment struc­ture.

Their loy­alty can­not be used against them now, but per­haps Cricket South Africa could have a quiet word and sprin­kle the Pre­to­ria dust to parts of the land that are in des­per­ate need.

With­out point­ing fin­gers, there are a cou­ple of sides who are clearly short of ex­pe­ri­ence and could do with a na­tional player or three com­ing in and putting in a shift. Hein­rich Klaasen, for ex­am­ple, only gets a look in if Proteas’ ace Quin­ton de Kock gets a week­end off.

The same can be said for sev­eral other stand­out Ti­tans in the fran­chise sys­tem, who have sim­ply been out­mus­cled by a na­tional player of even greater stock.

Surely, a short-term loan here and there would make things a lot more in­ter­est­ing?

Then again, who are we to try and tell the Ti­tans how to dis­trib­ute their re­sources?

Per­haps their cur­rent po­si­tion should be a reminder to oth­ers that there are no short­cuts to suc­cess.

This is a decade and more of Tukkies, and North­erns, and Affies.

What­ever com­bi­na­tion they choose, the Ti­tans would give any side in world cricket a run for their money.

What chance do mere fran­chises stand?

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