Farhaan Behardien and Albie Morkel have joined AB de Villiers and Morne Morkel in the national squad for the T20s against Australia starting on Sunday, while a broken finger has caused the withdrawal of all-rounder David Wiese, so effective with the new ball in recent weeks, joining Ethy Mbhalati and Rowan Richards on the sidelines with injuries.
Walter has called up pacemen JP de Villiers and Marchant de Lange and batsman Graeme van Buuren, while seamer Junior Dala has been signed on loan from the Highveld Lions.
With youngsters like Francois le Clus, Vincent Moore and Mangaliso Mosehle already in the team, Walter said this weekend’s match would provide an insight into the next tier of talent available to the Titans.
“There are seven players unavailable so with all those guys missing, it’s been difficult to make too many changes. But it’s a great opportunity to look at the future of Titans cricket,” Walter told The Pretoria News yesterday.
The challenge of taking on the defending champions – and current log-leaders – at their tricky Paarl venue is a daunting one and the obvious area in which the Titans are going to have to show massive improvement in order to be competitive is in the batting.
“We’ve got to start getting to the situation where the top six are contributing primarily in terms of runs. We’ve bowled particularly well in the last few games, but the batting line-up really needs to step up and show that they are worthy of their reputations,” Walter said.
Adapting to the quirky conditions of Boland Park will also be crucial. Unlike Gauteng, the Western Cape is baking hot and Walter is expecting that to force the groundsman to leave some grass on the pitch.
“It won’t be that quick, but there may be a bit of lateral movement early on and then it will become more up-and-down,” Walter said.
The Cobras are without Robin Peterson, who has a shoulder injury, and new Proteas call-up Beuran Hendricks, but captain Justin Ontong and his kin have depth and, most importantly, they know how to win.
According to Walter, that confident mentality is what his team need to develop.
“The Cobras play four-day cricket especially well and they’re a side that knows how to win. That’s what we need to get and we need to able to get into a scrap for four days. It’s going to be a tough ask, especially in Paarl,” Walter said.
Surprisingly, the Titans are not necessarily going to play the ultimate Bulldog, Roelof van der Merwe in the starting XI. The all-rounder will only get the nod if they play two spinners.
Without Van der Merwe, an already under-pressure batting line-up could see the struggling Mangaliso Mosehle move up to six and leg-spinner Shaun von Berg bat at seven.
Captain Henry Davids is batting number three and says he needs to lead from the front.
“I need to lead from the front and take responsibility, and batting at number three will give me that opportunity,” Davids said.
“We have bowled very well the past two games, but if we want to pressurise the Cobras, we need to compile big totals. Ultimately, our focus during the rest of the four-day competition is to improve our batting.”
Cape Cobras: Andrew Puttick, Omphile Ramela, Stiaan van Zyl, Justin Ontong, Yaseen Vallie, Dane Vilas, Justin Kemp, Rory Kleinveldt, Dane Piedt, Dane Paterson, Travis Muller.
Titans: Heino Kuhn, Francois le Clus, Henry Davids, Qaasim Adams, Graeme van Buuren, Mangaliso Mosehle, Roelof van der Merwe, Shaun von Berg, JP de Villiers, Vincent Moore, Marchant de Lange, Junior Dala.