Johannesburg - The doubling-up of prize money for the four-day first class series, which gets underway on Thursday, has given the series a deserved boost.
“It’s a wonderful initiative and gets things going nicely,” Titans batsman Farhaan Behardien said at the series launch in Johannesburg on Monday.
“It adds a bit of glitz and glamour to the competition while we usually only see these initiatives in 20-and 50-over cricket.”
Sponsors, Sunfoil, who also sponsored Test and development-level cricket, increased the total purse from R1-million to R2-million.
The winning team would walk away with R1-million while the runners-up would pocket R600 000, and the third-placed side R200 000.
The player of the series would earn R50 000 and a new R15 000 monthly prize was introduced for the player named “sizzler” of the month.
While four-day cricket did not attract an abundance of spectators, it was seen as the breeding ground for Test cricketers.
As the Titans and Cape Cobras were involved in the One-Day Cup competition until Saturday – a trophy they were forced to share as rain prevented play during both days reserved for the final -- the other franchises had an extra week to prepare for the changeover to the longer format of the game.
“The challenge for us is to make the switch in under a week,” Behardien said ahead of the Titans’ opening game against the Lions in Centurion on Thursday.
“For us to perform the way we did last year was unacceptable. The senior players never stood up so we’re looking to rectify our performances.”
Not only did the Titans finish bottom of the log last season, without a win in the competition, they lost eight of their 10 games and only managed two draws.
“Last year, we didn’t score enough runs. It’s our main focus in the longer format, so we can give our bowlers enough time to take 20 wickets.
“The Lions have had more time to prepare, to hit some red balls and for the bowlers to get some overs under the belt, so it will stand them in good stead.
“But we can take a lot of confidence from winning our pressure games in the one-day competition. We won our last four games and shared the trophy so we need to carry our confidence through to this series.”
Behardien said it was vital for the senior players to lead from the front in their relatively inexperienced side.
“The senior players, like myself, Heino Kuhn and Henry Davids, need to set an example for the youngsters when they make the step up,” the Protea ODI and T20 batsman said.
“Both Heino and Henry have been in wonderful form and my form has also been good so hopefully we can get big runs under the belt and try and bowl sides out.”
As well as Ethy Mbhalati and Marchant de Lange, the Titans also had spin bowlers Roelof van der Merwe and Shaun von Berg in their arsenal.
“Shaun has come on in leaps and bounds and has lost 10kgs. He’s a wicket-taker and that’s something we’ve lacked over the last few seasons.
“So we need to get runs on the board and then our two spinners can get us 20 wickets.”