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Ken Borland

Ability of fringe players tested as Titans face Dolphins

Posted on March 13, 2014 by Ken

With the Unlimited Titans out of contention in the Sunfoil Series, coach Rob Walter will be testing the ability of young fringe players in four-day cricket in the last three games of the season, starting with the clash against the Dolphins which is scheduled to start at Willowmoore Park in Benoni today.

Batsmen Theunis de Bruyn and Cobus Pienaar and wicketkeeper Tumelo Bodibe have all been called up for this weekend’s match as the Titans desperately try and find batsmen who can bat time.

A reshuffled batting line-up will see captain Henry Davids move up the order to open with Heino Kuhn, while Roelof van der Merwe, who has scored four half-centuries in eight innings to top the Titans’ batting averages, will move up to number five.

Walter has indicated he is going to play both left-arm spinner Van der Merwe and leggie Shaun von Berg, their leading wicket-taker, and will retain pacemen JP de Villiers and Junior Dala, while also including fast man Marchant de Lange for the first time in the campaign. So the final place in the starting XI is going to come down to a choice between De Bruyn and Pienaar.

Francois le Clus, Mangaliso Mosehle and Vincent Moore (who is particularly unfortunate) are the players to make way for the new blood.

Mosehle, after averaging 40 in the Momentum One-Day Cup, has managed to score just 146 runs in 10 innings in the Sunfoil Series, while Le Clus was only marginally better with 179 runs in 11 innings.

“Tumelo has played before for the Titans, a couple of years back, and we just want to see if he can offer more with the bat than Mangi, who has kept wicket outstandingly well, so that’s not what we’re trying to replace,” Walter told The Pretoria News yesterday.

Dala gets another chance after trying too hard to make an impact with his brand new team against the Cape Cobras in Paarl – he arrived on loan from the Highveld Lions just two days before the match – but he does have pace and bowled progressively better last weekend.

More importantly, his selection allows the Titans to field two Black Africans and their eyes are also clearly on Cricket South Africa’s incentives for transformation.

Walter can also defend the selection on the basis that the pacemen will be rotated, along with other young prospects like Easterns opening batsman Ernest Kemm, in the last three games.

The good news for the Titans is that they won’t be coming up against the best fast bowler in the competition, Kyle Abbott, or hard-hitting batsman David Miller, who are in the South African squad for the T20s against Australia.

But the Dolphins are a team on the rise and Walter is aware that his side face another major challenge.

“The Dolphins played particularly well in their last game, against the Warriors, and they’ve had a very similar looking team the whole season. Which shows they’re stable and they have a good set-up,” Walter said.

The news from Willowmoore Park yesterday was that the ground still looks as if it had suffered numerous airstrikes from water bombers and a wet outfield is something that has ruined matches before in Benoni.

Play starting on time today is unlikely plus there is the threat of further rain, but, as much as people like to rail against the facilities at Willowmoore Park, this time there is very good reason for their difficulties.

The Titans have played one other four-day game in Benoni this season and that was against the Cobras at the end of November, and bad weather cost an entire day’s play and led to that match being a dull draw.

The Titans did at least bat well though and scored 491 for seven declared, and Von Bergh lashed the fastest century in Sunfoil Series history, off just 73 balls, with 11 fours and five sixes.

And Walter is hoping for a similar batting display this time round.

Titans squad: Heino Kuhn, Henry Davids, Graeme van Buuren, Qaasim Adams, Roelof van der Merwe, Cobus Pienaar, Theunis de Bruyn, Tumelo Bodibe, Shaun von Berg, JP de Villiers, Marchant de Lange, Junior Dala.


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