Titans coach Mark Boucher was full of praise for his players after they clinched a third successive RAM SLAM T20 Challenge title on Saturday night after a clinical victory over the Dolphins in Centurion.
Chris Morris led a stellar bowling performance as the hosts secured a crushing seven-wicket win with 53 balls to spare.
The Proteas allrounder finished with four for 13 in 3.3 overs to help the hosts shoot out the visitors for a paltry 100 in 18.3 overs.
Malusi Siboto (2/10) and Lungi Ngidi (2/15) provided excellent support roles for the defending champions, before Quinton de Kock and AB de Villiers played cameos of 39 and 27 respectively to lead their side to a third 20-over title in three years.
“I really didn’t expect the game that we delivered today,” Boucher said afterwards. “The guys all rocked up and we put pressure on them from ball one. So, I’m very happy with the way we finished it off.”
The Titans looked almost invincible through the competition and in the end won eight out of 12 games.
Out of the four games they did not win, two were washouts, while the other two saw Boucher make personnel changes to his playing squad in a bid to keep everyone happy.
With their form so irresistible, Boucher’s team selection was about the only thing critics questioned during the competition, but he once again reiterated that it was never an issue for him.
“The guys made it very easy to be honest,” the former Proteas star explained. “They all understood from the start that we had a strong squad with a few guys coming back from injury as well, so they knew what to expect.
“The Titans’ team culture is quite strong and we put the team first no matter what. We had a couple of hiccups along the way, we got a bit of abuse here and there after that, but we stuck together as a unit.
“When we got to the semis and the final the guys really showed up, they were nice and fresh, so everything went according to plan.”
Boucher also hailed his bowlers for what they did in the competition.
“That’s something a lot of people look past because T20 cricket is so much of a batting game, but our bowlers have done really well,” he added.
“(Tabraiz) Shamsi, Lungi, Morris, a guy like Junior (Dala) and Malusi a lot of them haven’t done much bowling, they left everything out there tonight.
“The fielding was fantastic, it was just an excellent all-round performance.”
Boucher’s assistant, Mandla Mashimbyi, was equally delighted with the bowling, calling it one of the best performances he had ever witnessed in his career as a coach.
“The bowling tonight, I’ve hardly ever seen anything better, I mean I’ve worked with the guys day in and day out, so to see them execute their skills the way they did was really pleasing,” he said.
The title meant the Titans had now won all three of the limited trophies on offer for the past 18 months – two T20 and one Momentum One-Day Cup.
Their defence of that title begins on Friday when they host the Knights at SuperSport Park.
Mashimbyi says their aim is to make winning an obsession for the players.
“I’ve been with the team for a while and to see them win three in a row is something special,” he concluded. “You want to make winning an obsession and there’s definitely ways we can improve and that’s how we look at things.”
The Lancastrian was fresh off some standout displays in the 2003 World Cup.
Hales lost his place in last year’s World Cup-winning squad after news of a second failed test for recreational drugs.
The Warwickshire all-rounder is one on 18 bowlers to be selected for personalised practice.
The West Indies are due to arrive on these shores first this summer.
Broad took part in an individual training session at Trent Bridge.
Clare Connor suggested England are considering hosting a Women’s Tri-Series also involving India and South Africa.
The designated bowlers, whose identitites have not been confirmed, will have their temperatures checked.
The ECB had planned to introduce 40 professional contracts this summer across eight regional hubs.
County are waiting on a decision.