Centurion - Youthful exuberance personified by two former South African u.19-stars, Lungi Ngidi and Aiden Markram, four internationally decorated all-rounders, Albie Morkel, Quinton de Kock, Chris Morris and David Wiese, and the acquisition by the Titans of three potential stalwarts, have given the Hennops River squad the explosive cricket qualities needed to continue their domestic dominance.
Malusi Siboto (28), who was one of the leading bowlers in all formats for the Knights in the 2015/2016 and a wily exponent of changes of pace, will join the Titans. The medium-fast bowler captured 28 four-day series wickets, 19 One Day Cup scalps and boasted 14 T20 Challenge victims.
Jonathan Vandiar (26) has some experience in the Indian Premier League for the Royal Challengers Bangalore and averaged 65 in the four-day series last season for the Dolphins. He only had limited opportunities in the One-Day Cup campaign but averaged 35.
The former South African u-19 and former South Africa A player showed glimpses of his talent for the Highveld Lions, but is still a batsman under construction, as is his wicketkeeper-batsman colleague from the Dolphins, Daniel Sincuba.
“I would like to transform Jonathan’s cricket skills and talent into performances,” said Rob Walter, coach of the Titans, who acknowledged that Vandiar yearned for greater consistency while at the Dolphins.
“Daniel is still at an early stage of his development, and I would like to generate the atmosphere for him to grow,” Walter explained.
“My aim would be to create a culture and environment in which the squad can excel and fulfil their individual potential,” he added.
Walter has succeeded beyond his wildest dreams during the past three seasons. The batting, which was their Achilles’ Heel in 2012/2013 and 2013/2014, has blossomed the past two seasons as the Hennops River squad slammed 22 franchise tons.
Since 2013/2014, they have shared and won the One Day Cup series, clinched the T20 Challenge and been victorious in the four-day series under his astute management.
Sincuba learned his trade at Northwood College before representing the Dolphins.
Markram, the former South African u-19 captain who was at the helm when the team won the ICC u-19 World Cup, struck 702 runs for Northerns in the Three-day Cup last season, while Ngidi showed his class for the Titans by capturing six wickets in miserly fashion in their triumphant run to the T20 Challenge spoils.
Heinrich Klaasen blossomed again for Northerns in the first-class competition, averaging 49.66 with the blade, although he is still to create a more substantial impression in franchise cricket.
Grant Thomson, a journeyman all-rounder, was one of the Titans’ outstanding players in the One-Day Cup series and his promotion to the professional squad is fully deserved.
Walter knows he will have to cushion the blow caused by the departure of Theunis de Bruyn, Marchant de Lange and Mangaliso Mosehle.
But he has more than enough fire-power with the new ball, wily skills with the older nuts and batting expertise to continue the title-hunt in 2016/2017.
The 18 members of the professional Titans-squad are: Qaasim Adams, Junior Dala, Henry Davids, Heinrich Klaasen, Heino Kuhn, Aiden Markram, Grant Mokoena, Albie Morkel, Chris Morris, David Wiese, Tabraiz Shamsi, Lungi Ngidi, Malusi Siboto, Daniel Sincuba, Grant Thomson, Jonathan Vandiar, Shaun von Berg, Rowan Richards.
Nationally contracted players: AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis, Dean Elgar, Farhaan Behardien, Morne Morkel and Quinton de Kock.