JOHANNESBURG – The Warriors must be sick at the sight of the Titans.
Three times in the last two seasons, the men in blue have blocked the paths of the men from the Eastern Cape in the domestic ‘white ball’ competitions. Last season in the finals of the T20 Challenge and then later in the season in the Momentum One-Day Cup. This season, the Titans - with a host of Proteas superstars - overwhelmed the Warriors in the semi-final of the T20 Challenge.
Today, the Warriors are back at SuperSport Park, hopeful that some luck might finally turn their way as they seek to defeat the defending champions in the first semi-final. And luck will be key for the Warriors, because the Titans, once again, look strong favourites.
Not that Titans coach Mark Boucher is buying into anything like that.
“The Warriors are a scrapping team and they continuously get to semi-finals and finals,” he said. “We have to show them the respect they deserve for that and the way they play cricket as well.”
Although the Proteas, with the exception of Dean Elgar, aren’t available, the depth of talent available to the Titans means they can still field a very powerful and experienced side.
Heinrich Klaasen is the second highest run-scorer in the tournament this season, and arguably the best player in the country still to be capped at international level. Skipper Albie Morkel, Heino Kuhn, Henry Davids and Farhaan Behardien are vastly experienced players, who’ve won everything there is to win in South African cricket.
For Behardien, pictured, the match will provide an opportunity to show the national selectors they erred in axing him from the SA ODI squad for the six match series against India.
It will have hit Behardien hard, especially as he, along with the JP Duminy, have been the two most consistent players in the domestic limited overs competitions.
Once again the Titans’ depth will be tested and with Lungi Ngidi and Tabraiz Shamsi - by a distance the leading wicket-taker in the competition with 26 - called up for the Indian series, the bowling unit will be under scrutiny.
The Warriors coach, Rivash Gobind paid tribute to the Titans, saying they were an example for everyone to follow.
“They’re an example for every franchise in the country and it’s great as South Africans that we have one of the strongest domestic teams in the world. You want to play against the best and that’s what the Titans are.”