After an opening round thriller at Supersport Park Centurion, Momentum Multiply Titans coach Mark Boucher is massively encouraged by what is still to come from his charges this season.
“I thought it was a quality effort all-round, and a lot of teams might have caved in, with weather around and the way they were batting. But the belief was there. We always said that if we are gonna win this game, we will win this in the last session. And that’s exactly what we did,” Boucher beamed.
The 129-run victory charge past the Dolphins was sparked by a hat-trick from Tshepo Moreki, but he was just one of several heroes in the Sky Blues line-up.
“Tshepo has been bowling really well in the off season. He has picked up a yard in pace, and he came on after lunch and controlled his lines better,” the coach said of the late afternoon spell that turned the match on its head.
“It’s reward for a lot of hard work in the off-season, and the patience he showed early in the innings. I also think he will go from strength to strength this season.
“I didn’t expect the hat-trick, to be honest. I saw two of the three, as I was on my way down to the field. It was a very pleasant surprise,” Boucher added.
Another stand-out performer was young Neil Brand, who chalked up a century in the first innings, before adding a 77 in the second, as well as crucial wickets with ball in hand.
“He has a very bright future in front of him. He had good technique, and is a top-order batsman who bowls left-arm spin. So he is absolute gold dust,” Boucher enthused. “I know he will stay hungry, and he is certainly one to look out for in future.”
The start to this four-day competition was especially sweet considering the struggles of last season, when the Titans were constantly changing combinations, and had no real momentum in the four day format.
The promotion of the evergreen Grant Thomson to captain was a move to bring about some consistency, and he has made the perfect start.
“Grant has been very good in the change-room. We had a lot of captains last season, which we wanted to change because it wasn’t ideal,” Boucher admitted. “Grant is a guy who is well liked, and i think he has good cricket knowledge. I know he will do a good job.”
With the match meandering towards a draw, the Titans backed themselves to force the issue, providing the Dolphins a tempting target, and themselves enough time to try and get ten wickets.
“We knew that if we had about 70 overs at them, we would have a chance. I also thought it was a very good cricket wicket. We thought we would get a few wickets with the wearing wicket, and that was the case. Credit to groundsman Bryan Bloy for getting the wicket just right,” the coach said of conditions.
The big thing for Boucher this season is that he has plenty of strong bowling options, which fuels the belief that they can knock teams over. On top of the attack he put out against the Dolphins, he now has the likes of internationals Chris Morris and Tabraiz Shamsi knocking on the door.
“This season, we have a lot of options. We were scraping the barrel a bit last season, but now we have a bowling attack that I feel, even with some injuries, can still take 20 wickets.”