JOHANNESBURG - There is a lingering jealousy about the Multiply Titans among their opponents in South Africa that stems from the success they’ve had as a franchise - which can be gauged by their overflowing trophy cabinet.
But that’s not all. There are whispers all season when teams face the Titans: 'I’d love to see them lose,’ ‘they have all the players,’ ‘why do they get all the sponsors?’ are just some.
In a sense it’s understandable. Over the last decade they’ve won 11 titles outright, something the other five franchises can only dream of. And yes, a significant core of the national side is made up of players who wear the light blue cap with two of the best young players in the country; Aiden Markram and Lungi Ngidi, set for international stardom.
And despite being packed with playing talent - to the extent that Cricket SA want to create a draft system for the country because the Titans have so many of the country’s best players - they seemingly remain an attractive option for the country’s best players.
Dean Elgar moved there from the Free State, Chris Morris and Quinton de Kock from Gauteng, Dale Steyn owns a house in Cape Town but prefers playing his cricket up north, Theunis de Bruyn moved back to Centurion after two fairly successful seasons in Bloemfontein and in the last off-season one of the country’s most talented juniors, Wandile Makwetu, took up an offer to play there too.
And yes, the administrative networking and the trust that CEO Jacques Faul has engendered among corporates has made them an attractive option for sponsors at a time when Cricket SA is struggling to find backers for tournaments.
The Titans are not unbeatable however, and in fact they are probably doing the local game much good simply by pushing the other franchises to try and match them. Arguably the best example of that is the Warriors, who can’t match the Centurion based team for resources, neither financially nor in terms of the quality of players, but have adopted a never say die attitude that last season saw them make a significant breakthrough when they beat the Titans in the semi-final of the Momentum One-Day Cup at SuperSport Park after many seasons of heartache.
It’s the type of attitude the other franchise could adopt. The Cape Cobras too have talked a good game, but this season they seem well equipped to genuinely back those words with deeds on the field. And it is much needed for the local game. Domestic cricket is too often shoved into the shadows by the giant that is the Proteas, but it remains the heartbeat of the game locally, from where the Proteas must pick the best performers.
If the standards at which those performers can be made better, the Proteas will be better and that will mean the Titans, who’ve set the standards in the domestically must be pushed much harder than has been the case in recent seasons. The South African senior professional season starts in Centurion on Wednesday when the Titans face the Dolphins in the opening match of the Four-Day Challenge.