JOHANNESBURG – This Titans team is far too good to be granted gifts in the way the Lions did here on Wednesday afternoon in what was yet another disappointing showing from the home team in a season that has hitherto had more downs than ups.
The Lions were once more their own worst enemies, as has been the case for much of the season, in going down by 32 runs in the One-Day Cup against the Titans on Wednesday.
And between the players and the coaching staff, they had better sort out why that is the case.
For a professional outfit to make as many mistakes – repeatedly – as they have this summer indicates that there is a lot wrong in their dressing room.
One area that is usually a good indicator about the atmosphere in a side is fielding, and by that measure, based on Wednesday’s performance, the Lions look like a broken team.
They were downright awful in the field, but that’s been the case for most of the season.
And during the RamSlam, the fielding was flagged by some senior players as an aspect that needed improving.
Whether it’s been the festive break, or just part of a general malaise afflicting that dressing room, the Lions clearly haven’t fixed that part of their game and they paid dearly for it against the defending champions.
Five catches were spilled on Wednesday, and the Titans batsmen were able to score 85 runs more as a result of those misses.
The Titans didn’t even have to play that well. In fact, the Lions were able to expose vulnerability that other sides – especially if they’re able to field better – may be able to exploit.
VICTORY! Titans leave the Bullring with a win and it's Siboto who wraps up the innings. Fortuin (32) attempts to paddle the ball, misses and his stumps are dismantled. #LIOvTTN #MODC #JukskeiDerby pic.twitter.com/0UXvshi9yo
The Titans are very reliant on Heino Kuhn, Heinrich Klaasen and Farhaan Behardien, and none of them contributed significantly.
At 140/4, with Klaasen and Kuhn dismissed, the hosts had a chance to limit the damage their own errors had caused.
There was another chance at 192/5 in the 35th over when they dismissed the dangerous Behardien that they could bowl the Titans out for less than 250, but both opportunities were missed.
Andrea Agathangelou, playing just his fourth franchise limited-overs match, made a neat 68 (79 balls, 10x4), packed with some lovely drives, while Albie Morkel, because the top-order had under-performed, had to show greater care for the first half of his innings.
He was the last man out for 81 that came off 82 balls, and included seven fours and three sixes.
Despite the plethora of fielding errors – and the ground fielding was decidedly dodgy too – the Lions still bowled the Titans out for 264 with 15 balls left in the innings.
Beuran Hendricks picked up 5/49.
The Lions’ reply never got going. Skipper Stephen Cook was run out in the second over thanks to some excellent work by Klaasen, who dived to catch an errant throw and then threw down the stumps in one motion.
All of the Lions’ top-six got into double figures, but none of them could kick on to make anything substantial, with Rassie van der Dussen’s 49 the innings’ highest score.
Once more left-arm wrist spinner Tabraiz Shamsi was superb, with changes of pace and spin proving a handful as he picked up 3/40.
Lungi Ngidi bowled with good pace, but the best of the Titans seamers was Malusi Siboto, whose control of length was superb. He finished with 3/30 in 8.5 overs to help dismiss the Lions for 232.
Both teams are in action on Friday night – the Lions travel to Kimberley to face the Knights, while the Titans will host the Cape Cobras in Centurion.