JOHANNESBURG – By winning one of the three domestic franchise trophies on offer, the Titans have had a successful season, although by their high standards, the disappointment at their season ending on Sunday night was also understandable.
Failure to qualify for the play-offs in the T20 Challenge, a competition they’ve won in each of the last three seasons, brought the curtain down on a summer in which they were forced to look ahead to the future as players either retired or began their own individual planning for the changes which are coming to the domestic game.
Normally the Titans would look to use the winter to sign some new talent, but they and the other five franchises will cease to exist after the 2019/20 season.
This summer the Titans were forced to change; due to a raft of injuries in the four day competition, then the retirement of Albie Morkel in the white-ball formats and call ups to the national team. In the Momentum Cup, they had most of their usual core available for large stretches and their success wasn’t surprising, especially given they had the competition’s inform batsman, Aiden Markram, and were then able to call on Dale Steyn for the semis and final.
In the T20 Challenge, they were robbed of a lot of the talent that had been so instrumental to their previous successes.
“We lost a lot of experienced players; AB (de Villiers), Albie (Morkel), Lungi (Ngidi), Chris (Morris, Heinrich (Klaasen), just to name a few. It’s tough playing without them - they have been a big part of our success in the last three years,” said Farhaan Behardien, who captained the Titans in the T20 tournament.
Before their last match on Sunday against the Highveld Lions, they then also lost the services of their leading run-scorer Theunis de Bruyn to illness and the experienced Henry Davids to a fractured finger.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!— The Titans (@Titans_Cricket) April 29, 2019
From starting the season in the Seychelles, finishing runners-up in the inaugural Abu Dhabi T20, bidding farewell to a Sky Blues legend in Albie Morkel, and winning the #MODC, it's certainly been an eventful season! #WhatMakesUsTitans pic.twitter.com/dJnyPUqOC7
Sunday’s four wicket defeat against the Lions, coupled with the Dolphins thumping the Cape Cobras, saw the Titans knocked out of the competition. Adding to the absence of those key players mentioned by Behardien, the weather too played its part.
Rain has been a major factor in the T20 Challenge and Behardien admitted: “When momentum was built up, with a good win, or a couple of wins on the trot the rain halted that progress. It was tough, it played a big part in us not playing a few games.”
Some positive elements emerged; Diego Rosier’s batting was mature and decisive, left-arm spinner Gregory Mahlokwana performed well under pressure when bowling in the power play and Junior Dala enhanced his status as a fine white ball bowler again.
“We are very disappointed,” Behardien said about the season. “We’ve set our standards so high in the last three years. We’ve won two trophies (per season) and came close to winning the treble, which is unprecedented.”
We won a trophy (this season) there are plenty of teams in the country who have not won anything for years. So we will look back fondly on the Momentum Cup, we’ll celebrate that,” Behardien concluded.@shockerhess