Champions League T20 2012

Titans rely on unity, not stars

Firdose Moonda

October 12, 2012

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Jacques Rudolph heads to a nets session, Hamilton, March 14, 2012
Jacques Rudolph will want to make a mark in the T20 format © Getty Images
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Series/Tournaments: Champions League Twenty20

The Titans see their participation in the event as having been a long time coming. They are one of three teams to have missed out on the inaugural Champions League and have had to wait four years to make it back.

Surprisingly so, perhaps, because they are the most successful franchise on South Africa's domestic circuit. Since the system was formed in 2004, the Titans have won the first-class competition four times (once was shared), the one-day cup twice and the 20-over competition three times. Along with the Cobras, they have produced a large chunk of South Africa's national contingent.

Under coach Matthew Maynard, their style of play has changed from conservatively dominant to excitingly so. And the results are there to see. The Titans lost just three of their 14 T20 matches, two against the team they eventually defeated in the final, and were involved in the only tied match of the domestic season and the only Super Over.

In the process, they produced South Africa's newest T20 cap, Farhaan Behardien. He was their top-scorer with 333 runs from 12 matches at an average of 66.60 but was fourth overall. Martin van Jaarsveld, the veteran captain, was second on the run-charts, with 316. The wickets mostly came from experienced hands. Roelof van der Merwe and Alfonso Thomas both took 15 scalps, six behind the leader Chris Morris.

Like many domestic teams who are not IPL franchises, Titans' strength lies in team unity and not major superstars, especially since they will lose many of their top players in this tournament. Albie Morkel and Faf du Plessis will both play for Chennai Super Kings and Morne Morkel is due to turn out for the Delhi Daredevils. They would have had the services of AB de Villiers and Marchant de Lange for this event but back injuries have ruled both out.

How they qualified


Won the South African domestic 20-over competition, after beating the Lions by 45 runs in the final.

Key Player


Alfonso Thomas is most experienced 20-over cricketer the Titans have and also the most travelled. He has spent years playing in UK where his reputation of being tough has made him one of the most respected shorter-form players and he was contracted to the Pune Warriors for the last IPL. He has 167 wickets in this format at an average of 21.56 and his bowling will be important on both the pacy surface in Centurion and at the coast, where seam movement and swing will be on offer.

Test batsman Jacques Rudolph will also be one to watch in the tournament as it was at the Titans where he fought his way back into the national side. Not known as a 20-over cricketer, Rudolph could have a thing or two to say to change that perception in this tournament.

Surprise package


Allrounder David Wiese has been described by Maynard as being key to the Titans success. He has not made headlines but he has established himself as almost indispensable to the squad and the numbers show it. Wiese is a powerful hitter of the ball and has scored 275 runs in 28 20-over matches. His strike-rate is evidence of his ability. It sits at 162.72.

Wiese has taken 13 wickets, and at respectable average of 25.76 and has been identified as one of the go-to men to break a partnership. With multi-skilled men being most valued in the shortest format of the game, this will be Wiese's chance to catch the attention of national selectors and even IPL teams.

Weakness


They won the domestic competition without their international stars but they were playing against other South African domestic sides then. Now, they will not only have to do without them but there is the possibility that they will come up against some of them. Morkel will be a definite opponent when they play Delhi in the final group stage game and the mere thought of him could strike fear in some of the younger batsmen.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Bruisers on (October 13, 2012, 12:07 GMT)

The likes of AB de Villiers and Morne Morkel haven't been playing T20s for Titans in a long while. Albie and du Plessis too played only half the MiWay T20 tournament. So what's the issue?

Posted by therealutopianindigent on (October 12, 2012, 21:17 GMT)

More consideration needs to go into the availability of stars from one team for a competing team if this format is to work. It is really silly for the Titans stars to be bound to other teams through their IPL contracts whillst this is not the IPL. Surely we want to watch a showdown between the strengths of the world's top local sides, but that makes no sense if the IPL contracts rule.

It is really strange that Rudolph is viewed as a long-form specialist in SA given his peerless record in the format closest to T20, the 40-over competitions. He should be seen as an ODI specialist now.

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Tournament Results
Lions v Syd Sixers at Johannesburg - Oct 28, 2012
Syd Sixers won by 10 wickets (with 45 balls remaining)
Syd Sixers v Titans at Centurion - Oct 26, 2012
Syd Sixers won by 2 wickets (with 0 balls remaining)
Daredevils v Lions at Durban - Oct 25, 2012
Lions won by 22 runs
Daredevils v Titans at Centurion - Oct 23, 2012
No result (abandoned with a toss)
Auckland v Scorchers at Centurion - Oct 23, 2012
Scorchers won by 16 runs
More results »
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