Heino Kuhn is such a Multiply Titans legend that there have no doubt been letters arriving at SuperSport Park wanting to know why he hasn’t been playing, but the good news is that the 33-year-old Standard Bank Proteas batsman will be back in action on Friday as the Momentum One-Day Cup defending champions tackle the VKB Knights at the Diamond Oval in Kimberley.
Given the flurry of matches in the 50-over competition since the new year, it is easy to forget that Kuhn has already played three games in this season’s competition, doing well with 68 off 59 balls in the win over the Knights at Centurion and then making 20s against the bizhub Highveld Lions and the WSB Cape Cobras, innings that were ended by being caught behind down the leg side and then suffering from the back spasms that have kept him on the sidelines ever since.
Having also not featured in the Titans’ triumphant RamSlam T20 Challenge campaign, Kuhn is understandably champing at the bit as the defence of their Momentum One-Day Cup title gets to the nitty-gritty stage.
“It’s not nice to sit out, but I’m getting my chance now and I’m very excited. I felt very good in the games I played earlier and I’m very hungry now, so hopefully I can play another good innings after my 68 in the first game,” said Kuhn.
One role that Kuhn is happy not to have next to his name is that of selector, because the Titans have had to use 18 players in this campaign thus far and one more name will be added to their players page on Friday with spinner Gregory Mahlokoana set to make his second appearance in franchise 50-over cricket due to Malusi Siboto’s groin strain.
That gives captain Albie Morkel plenty of options with three frontline spinners likely to play. Unorthodox left-armer Tabraiz Shamsi is busy writing himself into the record books this season, leggie Shaun von Berg is an admirable foil and Mahlokoana is a different bowler altogether because he can bowl both right-arm off-spin and left-arm orthodox.
While the Knights are winless and at the bottom of the log, the competition is not over yet for them and they can still sneak into the semi-finals with a winning run. Which means they will be very dangerous opposition on Friday.
“The Knights have got some great players, Theunis de Bruyn may be back for them and with David Miller there as well they have match-winners. They’re also going to be very hungry because it is a must-win game for them. But our guys have played well, it has not been easy with lots of injuries and selection dilemmas, but whoever has been chosen has made it work and I’m sure we will make it work again on Friday,” said Kuhn.
It is shaping up as a massive weekend for the Titans, who are top of the log, because they also travel to Pietermaritzburg to play the third-placed Dolphins, who are just three points behind them and have a game in hand, on Sunday. The Titans will be counting on the Warriors giving the Dolphins just their second loss this campaign when they meet at Sahara Kingsmead in Durban on Friday.
One of Kuhn’s key roles on his return to the side will be giving the Titans top-order stability, after losing a wicket in the second over in midweek against the Lions and being 18 for three and two for two in their previous two games.
“There’s not a lot of experience in our top three, so hopefully I can play that role. Our top-order hasn’t always come off, but our middle-order has been getting us to good scores. But hopefully I can get us to a good total by the 35th over and then Albie and the other guys can give us that final push,” Kuhn said.
Multiply Titans squad to face the VKB Knights (from): Albie Morkel (c)
Farhaan Behardien, Corbin Bosch, Tony de Zorzi, Heinrich Klaasen, Heino Kuhn, Gregory Mahlokwana, Rivaldo Moonsamy, Alfred Mothoa, Tabraiz Shamsi, Grant Thomson, Shaun von Berg, David Wiese