JOHANNESBURG - “Nobody knows about the Boost Defenders,” said Farhaan Behardien about the Titans’ first opponents in the Abu Dhabi T20 tournament.
Sounding more like something out of a cheap video game than a cricket side, the Boost Defenders hail from the Afghanistan T20 League and, aside from the fact that they have signed Chris Gayle for this hit-about in the desert, very little is known about the playing personnel.
In fact not a whole lot is known about the Abu Dhabi T20 - as the event is called - either. The tournament’s website doesn’t even contain information about all six participating teams, while the reason for the tournament’s existence seems to be another attempt to further showcase the T20 format, while providing content for Abu Dhabi Sports - a Middle east TV station.
Besides the the Boost Defenders and the Titans; the tournament will feature the Hobart Hurricanes from Australia’s Big Bash League, English County side, Yorkshire, New Zealand’s Auckland Aces, the Lahore Qalanders from Pakistan.
It’s pretty quick tournament with the six sides split into two groups, where they play two matches with the top two teams in each group contesting a final next Saturday. First prize is a not to be sneezed at $150 000 (about R2.1-million).
“The money is obviously a nice incentive,” said Behardien, who also highlighted the fun aspect of the week long trip and the opportunity rarely granted to a domestic team to travel overseas.
“We’ve got some young players like Greg Mahlokwana who will gain a lot from this trip, and someone like Andrea Agathangelou, who wasn’t part of our team in the T20 comp last season because of all the internationals we had, will also get a chance. It’s all good experience.”
The Titans have picked a powerful side. Besides Behardien, they’ve included Albie Morkel, Chris Morris and Henry Davids in a 15-man squad. Dean Elgar was also set to make the trip until he got called up by the Proteas, but his replacement Heino Kuhn is a veteran of many successes in Titans blue.
Having won the South African T20 crown the last three seasons in a row, the Titans will fancy their chances in Abu Dhabi. “We pride ourselves on winning and trying to dominate. We know the Auckland side (who the Titans play in their second group game) are not sending their strongest side and we have some guys in our team that could be quite intimidating to face,” said Behardien.
The Titans leave for Abu Dhabi on Monday night. “We have a few days to acclimatise; there are a few guys, like me who’ve not been there,” said Behardien. “The experience of being overseas as a franchise side is an exciting one for us, we are going to try and have some fun, enjoy the occasion and we are going to try and win the tournament.”
Titans Abu Dhabi T20 squad: Albie Morkel (captain), Andrea Agathagelou, Farhaan Behardien, Henry Davids, Theunis de Bruyn, Dean Elgar, Tony de Zorzi, Eldred Hawken, Gregory Mahlokwana, Rivaldo Moonsamy, Tshepo Moreki, Chris Morris, Alfred Mothoa, Shaun von Berg.