Titans batsman Dean Elgar is expecting a strong and intense start to the 4-Day Franchise Series when the new season kicks off in a little under two weeks.
With no international cricket currently scheduled, nearly all the Proteas players are expected to be available for the start of South Africa’s domestic programme. The sport also returns for the first time since it was prematurely ended by the Covid-19 pandemic more than seven months ago.
The lockdown in between kept everyone at home, although normality is slowly starting to return following the phased lifting of restrictions over the past few weeks.
Elgar concedes there were pros and cons of not having to play cricket, but he feels the time is now right to return to play again.
‘I think I speak on behalf of most of our players – if not all of them as well as the coaching staff – when I say it’s been frustrating,’ he said. ‘We’ve been putting in some really good work these last few months and we’re just excited to start playing again.
‘It has been quite a long one and also an enjoyable one being home and spending time with your loved ones. But I do feel that it’s now time to get back on the park again.
‘So, with the first ball to be bowled on 2 November, I have no doubt everyone is going to be raring to go.’
Cricket South Africa (CSA) has been working tirelessly during the winter to try to get the game to bounce back following the delays and abandoned tours forced by coronavirus. The domestic fixtures were finally confirmed on 9 October when it was announced that only four-day franchise cricket will be played in 2020, with the season then moving ahead full scale from January 2021.
It means that all the focus will be on the first-class game and Elgar feels this will only help improve the quality of cricket. ‘Pretty much all the Proteas will be back at this stage, bar those in the IPL, so there’s no doubt it will add further intensity and strength to the game,’ he said. ‘I think the competition is going to be pretty strong.
‘It’s exciting and I’m sure a lot of franchise cricketers are also waiting for their opportunity to showcase what they have to offer to the set-up. I’m sure once it does get going then the cricket’s going to be very good.’
Opener Elgar did not play a single four-day match for the Titans last year due to his busy international schedule with the Proteas.
This time around, however, there is a good chance he will be available for at least the opening five or six games.
‘I can’t remember when last I was available to play so many four-day games,’ he added. “If I look back to last year, I don’t think I played any games because we had various tours and now it looks like we’re basically going to be available for close to the whole four-day competition.
‘As it stands, we’re going to be available for the whole season for the Titans. But I’m just keen to get out there and bat and that’s what I am most looking forward to at this stage.’
The Titans are in Pool A for the newly structured red-ball campaign, alongside the Warriors and Cape Cobras, who they are up against at Newlands in Cape Town for round one.
The 2020-21 season will be formally launched at Hammanskraal, near Pretoria, on Thursday.