The Titans had lost the toss and been sent in to bat and they had struggled to 45 for three in 19 overs when umpires Dennis Smith and Gerrie Pienaar, in consultation with match referee Barry Lambson, called the game off.
“The match has been called off in consultation with me because the umpires feel the pitch is too dangerous. They have to consider the safety of the players and several batsmen were hit on the hand, quite a few deliveries jumped off the pitch and at times balls kept low as well. It was getting more uneven,” Lambson said.
The Titans batsmen to be dismissed were Heino Kuhn (5), Henry Davids (25) and Theunis de Bruyn (8), and they all had to contend with deliveries rearing up off a good length, taking blows to the hands practically every over.
Lambson will now submit a report, including photographs and a pitch sample, to Cricket South Africa, who will decide what further action to take.
The Titans, who lost their first two matches in the One-Day Cup, will be hoping points are not deducted from them as the host franchise.
“It’s not as if we requested the pitch and we’re as badly impacted as the opposition, so if points are deducted I don’t think that will be fair. We had nothing to do with it,” Titans coach Rob Walter said.
“It’s sad for cricket and the brand because it’s hard enough to get people into the grounds. It’s the last thing they need and it’s very sad. I can understand if they don’t want to come back next time.”
The strange thing about the pitch debacle is that the strip for Sunday’s game was the one next to the track used for the four-day game against the Warriors, on which batsmen had their fill, Roelof van der Merwe scoring an unbeaten double century.
“I’m not sure what to think because the four-day wicket was a ripper and in just 10 days this has happened, which I don’t quite understand because I know groundsman Brendon Frost works bloody hard,” Walter said.
De Bruyn’s dismissal in the 17th over, gloving a catch behind to wicketkeeper Rudi Second off Dillon du Preez was indicative of the problems with the pitch. The previous delivery had only bounced ankle high and the wicket-taking ball, pitching in the same spot, reared up viciously and almost hit the batsman in the head.
The prospect of Marchant de Lange bowling at more than 140km/h on the pitch was the deciding factor for the umpires.
“Marchant is a lot quicker than the bowlers used by the Knights and nobody would like to face him on this pitch,” Lambson said.