Quinton De Kock, Chris Morris and Marchant De Lange will all be missing for the Titans when they host the Warriors in the Sunfoil Series this weekend, but coach, Rob Walter, is understandably confident that their replacements will fill the void. All three players will be taking part in South Africa A’s match against England that starts on Sunday, but Walter does have Dean Elgar available for the fixture at SuperSport Park as well as several four-day specialists who have some recent long-form cricket under their belts. Heino Kuhn, Grant Mokoena, Rowan Richards and Ethy Mbhalati will all come into the squad, having played three-day cricket for their provinces while the Titans were winning the Ram Slam T20 title in dominant fashion.
Elgar will open the batting with Kuhn, who scored 527 runs in six matches at an average of 58.55 in the Sunfoil Series last season, while it is also worth recalling the value that Richards and Mbhalati added as the Titans finished second in the competition last term. Richards played every game and was the fifth highest wicket-taker with 36 at an average of 27.86, while Mbhalati took 29 wickets at 24.13. Walter says: ‘That’s definitely a strength of ours, that our ‘next-in’ players are top quality and they have been performing, so with those three South Africa A players not available there’s a well-earned opportunity for them to play. We want to start well – we don’t want to get caught up in the T20 hangover. Last year we came second and this year we want to push for that top spot.’
The Warriors have not lost any players to either the Proteas or the South Africa A squads, and have instead regained Simon Harmer after the off-spinner was left out of the squad to face England. Coach Malibongwe Maketa says: ‘We’re excited to have Simon back. With the experience of India he’ll come in and give great energy to the group. He’s an international quality spinner and he’ll want to go out and prove to the country that he belongs at the highest level.’
After falling agonisingly short of the Ram Slam play-offs, Maketa admitted that time away from the game has helped to heal the wounds, as has the addition of new players to the squad. Openers David White and Michael Price are two of those players, and will be asked to give the Warriors a firm foundation to their innings against a Titans side that won’t lack for confidence.
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