‘Maynard lifted us out of despair’
Whatever other talents Titans' coach Matthew Maynard may have, it is his powers of encouragement and motivation which came to the fore when he lifted his team from a humiliating opening defeat into a position of strength in the One-Day Cup competition.
"A lot of credit for our turnaround must go to the coach [Maynard]," fast bowler CJ de Villiers said on Wednesday.
The Titans shrugged off their catastrophic 269-run loss at the hands of the Highveld Lions - the heaviest between two leading provincial sides in local history - to win their next two matches and rise to second on the log ahead of Friday's match against the Dolphins in Durban.
De Villiers said Maynard had revived the team by telling them that nothing else they did this season could possibly be worse than their performance that dark day in Centurion.
"Everyone was shellshocked and nobody knew where to put their heads after the Lions game," De Villiers said.
"But the coach said this is the worst we'll ever play and that lifted a lot of pressure off us. We know we're a good team and it just takes one guy to lift us."
That lift came five days later in Benoni as a fine all-round team effort saw the Titans beat the defending champions, the Cape Cobras, before hammering the Knights last weekend to climb into second on the log.
They were still 10 points behind the Lions, but with a game in hand.
The Titans were eager to maintain the momentum and stay in touch with the Lions, by beating the bottom-placed Dolphins on Friday.
While the Titans' spinners have been their most effective bowlers in the competition thus far, De Villiers said the pacemen could make an impact in Durban on Friday.
"The last few games, we haven't really fired as a fast bowling unit and we've been leaking runs in the first 20 overs," he said.
"We've spoken about it and we will be looking to improve against the Dolphins. Our plans have been pretty good, it's just a matter of executing them."
While the Lions attack, spearheaded by Titans discard Hardus Viljoen, have bowled their opposition out in all four of their matches thus far, De Villiers said the Northerns/Easterns combination could also take wickets through exerting pressure.
"If you put batsmen under pressure and hit good areas, then you will get wickets. You don't want to be trying for miracle balls. Good balls in the right areas are the ones that end up taking wickets," the former Free Stater said.
The Dolphins season may have already gone awry due to a combination of bad weather and poor form, but De Villiers said the Titans would still be keeping an eye on quality players like Vaughn van Jaarsveld, Jonathan Vandiar (if fit), Cody Chetty, David Miller and Lonwabo Tsotsobe.