“The responsibility is ours to make some hard calls on ourselves in terms of how we play the game,” Unlimited Titans coach Rob Walter said yesterday after his team had suffered another heavy Sunfoil Series defeat, losing by eight wickets to the Highveld Lions at the Wanderers.
“It’s not about pointing fingers, we are all – myself included – equally responsible for what I rate as our most disappointing performance of the season,” the coach said.
While Walter has understandably tried to share the blame around for the defeat, there is no doubt the batsmen were the most culpable as they produced an abject performance in scoring just 147 and 110 in the match.
And although the Wanderers pitch was a tricky one – there was always a bit of movement around and the bounce was uneven – it’s not as if they succumbed to a top-class bowling attack.
The chief destroyer for the Lions was medium-pacer Brett Pelser, who took seven for 44 in the match, far and away his best performance with the ball in franchise cricket.
“It wasn’t a great pitch, but there’s no ways it was a 147/110 wicket. If you watch the dismissals, most of them were due to poor shot selection and not related to the pitch. It was a case of the batsmen not really understanding what’s required to bat for a long period of time. It’s easy to convince yourself that the pitch is so bad, so you end up making a play and getting yourself out,” Walter said.
With the Titans now nearly 30 points off the pace of the log-leading Cape Cobras with just four rounds remaining, the time has probably come for some changes to the team.
Francois le Clus, Henry Davids and Mangaliso Mosehle are all averaging less than 20 with the bat, but the latter two have factors in their favour: Davids is the respected captain, while Mosehle is a fine wicketkeeper and, of course, a Black African. With Ethy Mbhalati out injured, a Titans team without a single Black African would be unacceptable to many.
“We’re certainly nearing the time when some changes are necessary to bring us some fresh ideas and fresh hunger,” Walter conceded.
Graeme van Buuren, who played a key role in the Titans’ amazing Momentum One-Day Cup comeback – it was so extraordinary a movie should be made of it – is one candidate for promotion, while there are other in-form batsmen in provincial cricket like opener Ernest Kemm, Tukkies star Theunis de Bruyn and wicketkeeper/batsman Heinrich Klaasen who are pushing hard for inclusion.
In contrast to the batsmen, the bowlers are in the coach’s good books at the moment. In the absence of Mbhalati, Marchant de Lange and Rowan Richards, they performed manfully in the Lions match.
“The bowling has improved tenfold. To bowl the Lions out of 212 when they were 106 for four was really good, and if we could have set them 180 in the second innings it would have been very interesting,” Walter said.