JOHANNESBURG - The Titans have dominated the opening week of the RamSlam, but in a somewhat scary admission for their opponents, Albie Morkel feels they haven’t yet played at their best yet.
The defending champions have won their opening four matches very comfortably, three of them with a bonus point and they missed out on a fourth bonus point by just one run against the Knights.
Morkel isn’t being picky either when he says his side can improve in a couple of different areas. “In the first game (against the Lions) our fielding was very bad, in Kimberley (against the Knights) our bowling wasn’t fantastic, we conceded too many extras, bowled too many wides.”
Despite those errors, they won both those matches easily, and won comfortably against the Warriors in East London last Friday and against the Cape Cobras on Sunday.
“I think it’s been more a case of the other sides not bringing their ‘A’ game than us getting better. Teams feel they have to score 200 runs to compete against us and that’s where they get it wrong,” said Morkel.
“The (opposition) go extra hard in the first six overs and then never seem to stop, even if they lose wickets. You saw that (from the Cobras) on Sunday, the guys just kept playing shots. I guess our guys have been asking enough of the right questions in the right areas and then waiting for the other teams to make mistakes, which they are doing. I don’t think it’s a case of us dominating them, there’s been some poor cricket from the other sides.”
Morkel does not believe that that poor cricket is a result of opposing side’s being intimidated by going up against his star-studded line-up. “It can’t be a case of intimidation, they’ve played against these players all their careers. There’s lots of experienced cricketers in the other sides. It might be a combination of reading the conditions wrong and then resetting or not resetting gameplans in certain parts of the 20 overs.”
While they’ve dominated the competition so far, the Titans are not without problems.
“We actually have too many bowlers, I have to juggle all that. You want to give everyone an opportunity, but it must be a quality opportunity, to showcase what they’ve got. If I don’t bowl someone on the day, there’s no malicious intent on my part, I make the decision on the day based on what’s best for the team and the guys know that,” said Morkel, who bowled just one over in last Sunday’s runaway victory against the Cobras.
The likes of Dean Elgar, Heinrich Klaasen and Chris Morris can’t get in the side at the moment. The latter is training at full tilt again following a back injury, but Morkel said he was still rusty.
“He’s a high impact player, he’ll bowl with the new ball, at the death, he’s expected to win games, and to do that you have to be at the top of your game, so we are giving him another week just to find his feet.”
“He’ll slot in, somewhere, we’ll find a spot for him,” Morkel joked. “It’s been challenging for us. Dale’s (Steyn) back, he’s starting to bowl better again, AB (de Villiers) is here, it’s about finding the right combinations.”
Morkel is hoping his team will be put under pressure in their fifth game of the competition when they face the Dolphins at Willowmoore Park in Benoni on Friday.
“They have a very well balanced T20 side, dangerous on their day. They play their cricket in a certain way, there’s trends you can follow and try to combat that. I think they will give us a proper challenge. I think it will be good for the bowlers if they get tested, just to see where they are.
At this stage we’ve not needed to bowl yorkers because we’ve kept taking wickets bowling back of length, once we get tested with that skill set - and that will only happen when (the opponents) score runs - it will be a good exercise when that happens.”
Meanwhile Morkel also confirmed that his brother Morne, is unlikely to be available for the RamSlam. The younger Morkel tore an abdominal muscle in the first Test against the Bangladesh at the end of September and was supposed to be back playing after six weeks. But the Titans captain said his brother had still not started bowling again, even off a short run.
“If he is right, it will only be around the time of the play-offs and then you really don’t want to force a guy into the team at the stage.”