Heinrich Klaasen rates the Titans as one of the best franchises in the world because of the number of international players they produce.
The Proteas wicketkeeper-batsman has become a fan favourite in the Proteas set-up after making his ODI debut against India in February. His free-flowing attacking brand of cricket has made him an exciting addition to the Proteas XI, but the 27-year-old made a name for himself playing for the Titans, particularly in the shorter formats.
The Titans are undoubtedly the best domestic franchise in South Africa, having picked up the double last season by winning the four-day competition as well as the T20 tournament.
They have produced a number of Proteas players, with Faf du Plessis, Dean Elgar, Chris Morris, Dale Steyn, Aiden Markram, Lungi Ngidi and Tabraiz Shamsi all current Proteas players who play their domestic cricket at the Centurion-based franchise.
The recently retired AB de Villiers and Morne Morkel also played for the Titans. Naturally, having a strong national contingent can cause disruptions in team selection with players departing and returning from national duty, but Klaasen believes this makes them stronger as a side.
‘In this stage of our cricket, there are limited opportunities. I don’t think it’s a bad thing. When you do get an opportunity you want to show people that you do belong here. So there’s a lot of pressure from the guys that are playing because performances from the amateur set-up are also strong. So for me, it’s a positive thing,’ Klaasen said at the CSA season launch today.
‘It is a struggle sometimes with all the Proteas coming back – a lot of the players have to miss out, unfortunately, but that’s part of the franchise. There is a reason we have so many international players because we are one of the best franchises in the world, I reckon.’
This pipeline to the national team has to be regularly fed and Klaasen believes that their team culture is perfect for new players to grow their game.
‘We have an easy culture to fit in. We always make the youngsters feel welcome,’ said Klaasen. ‘There is obviously a respect between the younger and experienced players but everyone is equal in our team, so if you have an opinion to raise, you can do it with no pressure on you.’
No side has ever won a treble in the franchise era, but Klaasen believes the Titans have what it takes to pick up all three titles.
‘We had a fantastic one-day campaign, but in the last couple of games, we slipped up, which is unlike us. Last year was our best chance to get it. We also had a disappointing four-day season, and we had to pull something out the hat in the last four-day game to win it. We have been there and there about. It is tough to do it but we definitely have the squad to do it.’