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