Titans coach Mark Boucher has reacted angrily to suggestions that he gave away a game by fielding a weakened side against the Dolphins when they were bowled out for 79 in their final Ram Slam T20 Challenge round robin fixture on Sunday.
With a home semifinal secured‚ Boucher decided to field a team without captain Albie Morkel‚ AB de Villiers‚ Farhaan Behardien‚ Aiden Markram‚ Lungi Ngidi‚ Chris Morris‚ Dale Steyn and Quinton de Kock in their 89-run defeat to the Dolphins in Durban.
As a result of their victory‚ the Dolphins secured a home semifinal against the Cape Cobras in Durban on Thursday. The Titans will host the Warriors in Centurion on Wednesday.
"I haven’t given away a game. We had one‚ two‚ three‚ four Proteas players‚ four SA A players‚ two SA under-19 players and one up-and-coming player from the franchise system‚" Boucher said on Wednesday at SuperSport Park as the Titans prepared for the Warriors.
"I will never put out a side just to go out there and lose."
Boucher said it was always his plan to give opportunities to fringe players as soon as a home semifinal was secured. Those who were unhappy needed to experience finishing top of the log and be faced with some of the tough decisions he had to deal with.
"It was one of those games where it was not ideal and we didn’t worry about other teams‚" Boucher said.
"We had to worry about ourselves. If they want to complain, they should finish at the top of the log and make the sort of decisions that we made.
"Once we made the semis, I said that we were going to mix and match.
"What people don’t understand is that at the Titans we have a bigger picture‚ which is giving these guys opportunities and making everyone happy," he said.
"We have ticked all those boxes. A couple of guys got three to four games; there were one or two rained-out games, but you can’t control that.
"We have Proteas guys who are coming back from injury and I have to try and make them Proteas again. Dale [Steyn] was one of the first ones — when he was ready I put him in.
"Then when we played in Cape Town, we did not have a balanced team. Anyone who has a little bit of cricket knowledge could see that.
"We chose to play Dale again because he was always going to play five games. He bowled very nicely for us and did a great job‚ but we probably lost because we did not have the extra batsman," Boucher said.