JOHANNESBURG – The sprint to the finish line in the Sunfoil Series begins this week, with four teams still in pursuit of the Titans and outright wins - so hard to come by this season - now of paramount importance to all five main candidates for the title.
Make no mistake, while the two limited overs competitions garner most of the crowd support and viewership, the Sunfoil Series remains the competition all the pros want to win.
After all it defines their season and most accurately reflects who the best team in the country is.
While the Titans, because of their success in the RamSlam and then their dominance of the league phase of the Momentum One-Day Cup have been the best franchise in the country this season, they will feel let down if they don’t have something more tangible to point to at the conclusion of the season.
They’ve not necessarily dominated the four-day tournament, merely kept their noses in front during the first half by picking up sufficient bonus points and then concluding that first portion of the competition with an excellent win against the Lions at the Wanderers way back in October.
Since the tournament resumed, they’ve had to scrap to some tough draws against the Cape Cobras and then the defending champions the Knights.
The Titans have not been helped by call ups of some of their key players to the struggling national team with the absence of Heinrich Klaasen in particular hurting.
But coach Mark Boucher is nothing if not a realist and will know that one outcome of their success as a franchise is the recognition for his players at the highest level.
This week, he will get some of that talent back, most notably Chris Morris who is under instruction from Proteas coach Ottis Gibson to get back on the domestic scene and rekindle his confidence.
“I would imagine he will go back and play some domestic cricket to try and get some consistency in his bowling,” Gibson said about Morris after the T20 series against India.
“We know that he can be a match-winner but he has been very short of that.
“We had a conversation about that so I’m not telling you anything that I haven’t told him. So he just needs to decide what type of bowler he wants to be and then work to become that guy.”
Tabraiz Shamsi and Malusi Siboto should also be available for the Titans who travel to East London this week to play the third placed Warriors.
Siboto would have gained a lot of confidence from his outing for the South Africa A side against Australia in Benoni last week, where he claimed the prized scalp of Steve Smith in a fine first innings spell.
The Warriors have been helped by the return of Simon Harmer who, despite playing only five of the seven matches in the competition, sits atop the wicket-taking table on 30.
The Warriors, along with the Dolphins who face the Cape Cobras and the Knights who host the Lions, know they need to make a play this week to keep the heat on the Titans.
There have been only three wins this season, with sluggish pitches the main reason why bat has mostly dominated ball.
It can’t continue, with the ambitions of all the teams, meaning something has to give this week.