JOHANNESBURG - Titans coach Mark Boucher plans to continue giving opportunities to his young players when the second half of their Sunfoil Series campaign resumes against the Cape Cobras in Benoni on Thursday.
After limited-overs action took precedence over the past three months, the four-day season will now be the focal point for the remaining five weeks of the term with all six teams still in contention for the title.
As the only side to have won a match out the 15 played so far, the Titans lead the way going into round six. They are just over under 11 points clear of defending champions the Knights with just over 23 points separating top from bottom.
Boucher has fielded a host of rookies throughout their campaign thus far with Migael Pretorius, Andrea Agathangelou, Alfred Mothoa, Corbin Bosch, Tony de Zorzi and Rivaldo Moonsamy given game time opportunities, mainly due to national call-ups.
And their coach says he will not shy away from providing these players further chances.
“At the beginning of my tenure here at the Titans I said that I want to sort of create more and more Proteas for the Titans,” Boucher said. “A lot of people will look at it now, and because we’ve lost more players, and say that the Titans squad is depleted.
But I don’t look at it like that. We’re in a fantastic position at the franchise and if we’re losing players to the national team then we’re in a fantastic position. I’d be worried if we weren’t losing players.
“It’s created opportunities and this is just another opportunity for them to come in and scrap for a trophy.”
Looking ahead to the game at Willowmoore Park, Boucher believes the Cobras will offer them a stern test.
“It’s a tough start against the Cobras because they’re in good form themselves, so we’ll need to make sure we begin on the front foot,” he added. “But we are leading the table at the moment, albeit by a small margin.
“There’s certainly enough firepower and skill in our squad to perform well and challenge for the trophy.”
Cobras coach Ashwell Prince is also looking ahead to the second half of the season with hope.
“It hasn’t been the greatest of starts to the white-ball season after we lost the first three games, but to come back and reach the semi-final in both competitions with such a young team was an excellent effort from the players,” he explained.
The Cape side are presently placed fourth and have the advantage of twice playing the Titans in the remaining half of the season – games that could be key to where they end up this season.
“Ths is the real deal and the big test for us,” Prince added. “It’s a good thing we’re in the position we’re in and I'm sure everyone is thinking the same way. We’re all in the same boat, so there’s all to play for.
“We play the Titans twice and I think for us, those could be the fixtures that determine whether we can win the competition or not, starting with the match in Benoni this week.”
Titans squad - Dean Elgar (capt), Andrea Agathangelou, Corbin Bosch, Junior Dala, Henry Davids, Tony de Zorzi, Eldred Hawken, Heino Kuhn, Rivaldo Moonsamy, Alfred Mothoa, Migael Pretorius, Rowan Richards, Malusi Siboto, Shaun von Berg.
Cobras squad - Dane Piedt (capt), Michael Cohen, Zubayr Hamza, Simon Khomari, George Linde, Pieter Malan, Aviwe Mgijima, Mthiwekhaya Nabe, Dane Paterson, Jason Smith, Stiaan van Zyl, Kyle Verreynne, Lizaad Williams.
African News Agency (ANA)