JOHANNESBURG - Mark Boucher believes the points system in the Sunfoil Series needs to be re-examined and possibly amended to aid more positive cricket in the country’s premier first class competition.
There were just eight wins in the 30 four-day matches played in the tournament this summer, and while rain played its part, as well as some very sluggish pitches, there is also some concern about the mentality of the teams.
“I think it’s a major concern,” said Boucher, who coached the competition winners, the Titans this season. He admitted his team adopted a cautious approach at times, that placed ‘not losing’ above chasing victory.
“We fought for draws when we knew we needed those extra six points. If we’d gone for the win we may have ended up losing, then we’ve lost those six points (for the draw) and we may not be standing here with the trophy,” he said.
Earning six points for drawing a match - in addition to the bonus points earned in the first innings for batting and bowling - was a step Cricket SA took to ostensibly make teams fight harder and take matches as deep as possible. However its had a different effect, one that has seemingly created a negative mindset among teams.
“Ultimately, we don’t come up with the points system. I think it needs to be relooked at,” said Boucher, who after just two season as the franchise’s coach, has picked up four trophies.
“Having 16 points for a win was meant to create more positive cricket, if anything, until the last two rounds, it probably made for more negative cricket, because there were points on offer for a draw. Maybe there shouldn’t be points for a draw, rather than to go out there and win - because losing means there could be too much of a gap.”
The gap between the Titans and the second place Warriors, was just 1.52 points, highlighting the importance of the draws - and points earned - in this season’s tournament.
“The competition is what it is, and maybe the coaches and CSA can get together to highlight the playing of a more positive brand of cricket by relooking the points system. You could look at declarations after 120 overs ...there are so many things that need to be spoken about. I’m sure at the coaches seminar in the off-season we’ll discuss something that may work.”
Victory in the Series concluded another season in which the Titans showed themselves to be the pre-eminent franchise in the domestic game. Over the past three seasons, they’ve won at least two trophies per season, and this summer besides winning the Sunfoil Series and RamSlam T20 Challenge, they topped the log in the Momentum One-Day Cup, but lost out in that competition, when defeated in the semi-final by the Warriors.
The franchise remains wary of resting on its laurels, said Heinrich Klaasen, who took over as captain of the four-day side when Aiden Markram was elevated to the Proteas. “We are fortunate to have a great CEO (Jacques Faul), fortunate to have a great coach and a great squad.”
“Our cricket will always be strong, we try to lift the intensity everytime we play, and to up our standards. Guys want to play here - we have had nine players in the Proteas squad (over the course of the season) - and it’s the place where you want to make your career.”