Thirty games and 120 days’ scheduled play in the Sunfoil Series, and it all came down to a frenetic two days of desperate activity and enforced inactivity, from which the Titans emerged victorious.
Has there ever been a more bizarre series in which the winner registers just two wins?
The Titans owed their title, by just 1.52 points, to an all-or-nothing batting performance against the Knights when, after two days’ play were lost to rain, they agreed to each bat 40 overs in the first innings.
The Knights scored 169-7; the Titans 269-3, which brought them a decisive 3.38 batting points. That was followed by Chris Morris producing an inspired spell of bowling to take six wickets and snatch the victory as the rain clouds hovered overhead.
Throughout the series, only seven wins were recorded, against 23 draws. In the first half of the season, played on unresponsive wickets, just one win was celebrated. And while six came in the second half, the teams did not exactly ‘roll the dice’ as they were expected to.
And while the pace of Morris brought home the trophy, spinners had dominated throughout the previous months: Simon Harmer, the off-spinner, was the outstanding bowler, with 47 wickets from just 13 innings, including a match-best of 12-148.
Harmer is in the form of his life, for he was just pipped to the post of best bowler in England, helping Essex to the County Championship title by taking 72 wickets in 26 innings. It was almost a team double for the Warriors were in the driving seat until Werner Coetsee’s six-wicket haul derailed their charge for victory against the Knights in the penultimate game of the season.
Rain ruined their final match against the Dolphins, but given that they, along with the Titans, were the only teams to score two wins, it is fitting they took the runner-up position.
Spinners took the first three places on the wicket-taking list, with Senuran Muthusamy of the Dolphins (33) and the Titans’ Shaun von Berg (29) following Harmer. Dane Piedt (Cobras), Jon-Jon Smuts (Warriors) and Aaron Phangiso (Lions) also feature in the top 10 bowlers. The leading paceman was Malusi Siboto of the Titans, with 25 strikes from 19 innings at an average of 30.12.
Throughout the series, 29,987 runs were scored at an average of 999.5 per game, led by Rassie van der Dussen, of the Lions, with 959, while 771 wickets were taken (av 25.7 per game). It took 15 matches before a team was bowled out twice, when the Lions, scoring 180 and 165, lost to the Titans by nine wickets, thus becoming the first team to lose in five rounds of play.
A total of 67 hundreds were notched up, led by Pieter Malan’s four, with eight players registering three each, and 24 players averaging more than 50.
Titans: (w 2, l 1, d 7) 143.96 points; Warriors (2-1-7) 142.44; Cobras (1-1-8) 133.36; Knights (0-1-9) 126.70; Dolphins (1-1-8) 126.66; Lions (1-2-7) 120.46
Most runs: 1, R van der Dussen (Lions) 959 at 73.76 (highest score 163); 2, V van Jaarsveld (Dolphins) 898 at 52.82 (110); 3, P Malan (Cobras) 892 at 55.75 (195); 4, Zubayr Hamza (Cobras) 828 at 69.00 (121); 5, R Second(Knights) 803 at 80.3 (203*); 6, D Vilas (Dolphins) 734 at 66.72 (161); 7, C Ackerman (Warriors) 660 at 66.00 (187*); 8, R Hendricks (Lions) 658 at 43.86 (119*); 9, E Moore (Warriors) 648 at 38.11 (115); 10, MY Vallie (Warriors) 633 at 42.30 (150).
Most wickets: 1, S Harmer (Warriors) 47 at 21.85; 2, S Muthusamy (Dolphins) 33 at 26.54; 3, S von Berg (Titans) 29 at 41.75; 4, M Siboto (Titans) 25 at 30.12, =5, A Nortje (Warriors) 24 at 35.04, D Piedt (Cobras) 24 at 53.58; =7, T Bokako (Warriors) 22 at 24.31, L Williams (Cobras) 22 at 39.31; =9, JT Smuts 20 at 24.55; A Phangiso (Lions) 20 at 27.15; B Hendricks (Lions) 20 at 29.05.
Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix