Coach Rob Walter on Tuesday named eight frontline batsmen in his squad of 13 and four of those – Roelof van der Merwe, Henry Davids, Dean Elgar and Graeme van Buuren – are handy spinners who will be able to back up leg-spinner Shaun von Berg.
With Elgar and Heino Kuhn set to open the batting, and Farhaan Behardien and captain Henry Davids filling the middle-order, there are spots up for grab at numbers three and six. Theunis de Bruyn is one for the future at three, while Van der Merwe was the Titans’ leading run-scorer in the Sunfoil Series last season and probably has the inside lane for number six.
Fortunately, Walter is spoilt for choice in terms of batsmen.
“Watching the guys bat in the nets, there’s nobody who needs any extra work, everyone is looking in very good touch. Most of them have had game-time in the middle and now it’s just a case of executing and being mentally switched on,” Walter told The Citizen on Tuesday.
The Lions hammered the Titans in both their four-day matches last season and their fiery bowling attack, in particular, has troubled the batsmen.
“The Lions are really a very good four-day team, they have a great balance in terms of batting and bowling, and they should be contenders if they play to their strength. We lost twice to them last season, so we definitely have to raise our game,” Walter acknowledged.
The biggest focus for the Titans will be their batting because none of the frontline batsmen were able to get a century – Von Berg thrashing an unbeaten 105 off just 73 balls in a drawn game against the Cobras in Benoni, the fastest ton in franchise four-day history.
But their bowlers also had their inconsistencies last season and Walter is delighted that fast bowler Marchant de Lange is ready for action from the start of this campaign.
“It’s great to have a strike bowler like that available, especially after his successes with the SA A team that went to Australia, and I’m looking forward to seeing him in action,” the coach said.
In the absence of all-rounders David Wiese and Albie Morkel, both of whom are out with ankle injuries, De Lange will look to left-armer Rowan Richards and veteran Ethy Mbhalati for support with the new ball, while De Bruyn and Behardien are able to provide some medium-pace seamers as well.
Squad: Dean Elgar, Heino Kuhn, Theunis de Bruyn, Farhaan Behardien, Henry Davids, Roelof van der Merwe, Mangaliso Mosehle, Shaun von Berg, Marchant de Lange, Rowan Richards, Ethy Mbhalati, Qaasim Adams, Graeme van Buuren.