The Titans have shrugged off their catastrophic 269-run loss at the hands of the bizhub Highveld Lions – the heaviest between two leading provincial sides in local history – to win their next two matches and rise to second on the log ahead of Friday’s match against the Sunfoil Dolphins in Durban.
And, as fast bowler CJ de Villiers revealed to Sapa on Wednesday, Maynard revived his team by telling them that nothing else they did this season could possibly be worse than their performance that dark day in Centurion.
“A lot of credit for our turnaround must go to the coach [Maynard]. Everyone was shellshocked, nobody knew where to put their heads. But the coach said this is the worst we’ll ever play and that lifted a lot of pressure off us. We know we’re a good team and it just takes one guy to lift us,” De Villiers said.
The lift came five days later in Benoni as a fine all-round team effort saw the Titans beat the defending champions Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras and they then hammered the Chevrolet Knights last weekend to climb into second on the log, 10 points behind the Lions, but with a game in hand.
The Titans will be eager to maintain the momentum and stay in touch with the Lions by beating the bottom-placed Dolphins on Friday, or else they run the risk of being overtaken by the Knights or Cobras in the race for second place and a home qualifier.
The team that tops the standings qualifies automatically to host the final.
Of course, given the recent weather in Durban it would be quite an achievement just to complete the game. The south-westerly wind has been consistently blowing rain up the coast and she also ensures the Sahara Stadium Kingsmead pitch retains a lot of its traditional spite.
While the Titans spinners have been their most effective bowlers in the competition thus far, De Villiers said the pacemen could make an impact in Durban on Friday.
“The last few games, we haven’t really fired as a fast bowling unit and we’ve been leaking runs in the first 20 overs. We’ve spoken about it and we will be looking to improve against the Dolphins. Our plans have been pretty good, it’s just a matter of executing them,” De Villiers said.
While the Lions attack, spearheaded by Titans discard Hardus Viljoen, have bowled their opposition out in all four of their matches thus far, De Villiers said the Northerns/Easterns combination could also take wickets through exerting pressure.
“If you put batsmen under pressure and hit good areas, then you will get wickets. You don’t want to be trying for miracle balls, good balls in the right areas are the ones that end up taking wickets,” the former Free Stater said.
The Dolphins season may have already gone awry due to a combination of bad weather and poor form, but De Villiers said the Titans would still be keeping an eye on quality players like Vaughn van Jaarsveld, Jonathan Vandiar (if fit), Cody Chetty, David Miller and Lonwabo Tsotsobe.