Centurion Heino Kuhn claimed the ultimate accolade, the Titans Player of the Year prize, and also two other coveted titles, at a glittering Titans’ annual awards ceremony at the Momentum head office on Tuesday.
His hat-trick of awards, as player of the year, first-class player of the year and players’ player of the year, were just rewards for his sterling performances with the bat the past season.
As a first-class batsman, he slammed 999 runs in the Sunfoil Series. He is on course to become the first South African franchise-batsman since 2009/2010 to reach a milestone of a 1 000 during a golden summer.
He raised his bat three times in the Sunfoil Series to acknowledge applause for centuries.
The compact 31-year old right-hander also showed his class in the Momentum One Day Cup competition, hammering 241 runs at an average of 60.25.
Kuhn edged Albie Morkel and Quinton de Kock. Both were short-listed for the award as player of the season.
The Titans won seven straight matches in the league-phase of the Ram Slam T20 Challenge and romped to a seven-wicket win in the final.
The captain, Morkel, was like the conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, impeccable and produced virtuoso performances throughout one of the finest domestic T20 campaigns in recent memory.
But perhaps that is where the metaphor of the conductor breaks down. Morkel did not only command a sound performance from other team members.
He also led from the front, taking 10 wickets in the Ram Slam T20 Challenge to top a Titans’ bowling averages which included classy stars like Chris Morris and David Wiese.
In addition, the middle-order mainstay struck 198 runs at an average of 39.60 in the T20-competition.
Morkel deservedly received the award as the Titans’ T20 cricketer of the year.
The pocket-rocket Mangaliso Mosehle was also shortlisted for the T20 award. He blasted 87 off 39 balls in the domestic T20 final, including six fours and seven sixes.
Normally so explosive square of the wicket, his hitting in the proverbial V between long-off and long-on left the fans breathless with excitement.
De Kock caused the selectors for the Titans awards-ceremony some head-scratching in the categories as player of the year and T20 cricketer of the year.
He was 'Mr Incredible' in the T20 format, hammering 437 runs at an average of 39.72 and hardly ever failed to get the Titans off to an explosive start.
In his only Sunfoil Series match he struck a 133-ball 117 against the Cape Cobras.
Grant Thomson received the award as limited-overs player of the year.
The fast-evolving all-rounder excelled in the Momentum One Day Cup competition, averaging 63.25 which included a belligerent unbeaten 98 against the Warriors.
When Morkel, Morris and Wiese were absent, there were no SOS-signals of panic evident, because Thomson stepped up and ignited the lower middle-order.
The ageless all-rounder Morkel was another who impressed in the Momentum One Day Cup competition, but missed out to Thomson.
Morkel added a yard of pace with his new-ball bowling the past season, got late shape away from the bat, and took 7 wickets while averaging 38.20 in the Momentum One Day Cup competition.
Junior Dala was another strong contender for the limited-overs award. He was considered due to his striking power, as he captured 16 wickets. He impressed with his aggression and his subtle change of pace.
Lungi Ngidi received the award as newcomer of the year. The 20-year old displayed sound big-match temperament at the business-end of the most frenetic format at domestic level, the Ram Slam T20 Challenge. He finished with six wickets with a best of 2-30.
Ethy Mbhalati was shortlisted as first-class player of the year for his consistency and the spark he provided with the new ball.
He inspired the Titans in mid-season when they needed a bowling spearhead. He stepped up to capture 5-29 at the Mangaung Oval in Bloemfontein, leaving the Knights temporarily bloodied and bruised as they slumped to 76 in their first innings.
Mbhalati finished with a match-haul of 7-92 in the four-wicket win against the Dolphins in Benoni as the Titans raced to the summit of the Sunfoil Series log.
Tabraiz Shamsi was a third player to be shortlisted in the first-class category. Twice, the left-arm wrist-spinner featured with two 12-wicket hauls in Sunfoil Series matches.
His finest match-winning exploit was his 12-85 against the Cape Cobras.
The 25-year-old has nipped out 37 batsmen in a Sunfoil Series competition which might be career-defining.
Graeme van Buuren collected the prize for the most valuable player of the year. He was a mainstay of the Titans for at least a part of the Momentum One Day Cup competition, smashing 225 runs at an average of 45.
There were no nominations in this category, as he was selected by the coach and the support staff.“I wish to congratulate Heino on his superb performances which warranted the three awards, including the player of the season-prize,” said Jacques Faul, chief executive officer of the Titans.
“He is one of the most decorated players for the Titans because he has won so many man-of-the-match-awards, and even received national accolades. His longevity is a hallmark of his career,” added the CEO.
“His attitude throughout the seasons, even when he was on the substitute bench, encapsulates the Titans family spirit.
“He doesn’t let you down, and he gives 110%. He is almost never beaten until the fat soprano sings her last area,” Faul enthused.
“Albie, like Heino, has been one of our long-serving stewards and he set standards of leadership and all-rounder’s excellence which has made us all proud.
“His legion of fans could recall so many games which were won by the solo performances of Morkel with bat or ball. Who would forget his 54 at Paarl in 2011/12 which proved to be the turning point of that four-day competition, or his unbeaten 134 in the Momentum One Day Cup final in 2014/2015 which helped to set up the five-wicket win when Dean (Elgar) also scored a ton.
“And this season’s T20 campaign was a vindication of his exemplary style of captaincy.
“We trust we can call on Albie for another season in which he will showcase his three-in-one blue-chip qualities as leader, fast bowler and hard-hitting middle-order champion,” Faul remarked.
“Grant has just underlined what depth we possess in reserve. He deserves credit for the way he has stepped up to the plate,” Faul added.
“In his first season for his new adopted franchise, Quinton has blossomed, like Dean and Chris since joining us. De Kock hammered a century in his only Sunfoil Series match and his class in the Ram Slam T20 Challenge got us off to a rollicking start,” Faul added.
“Tabraiz received the award as fans player of the year. Our social websites and communication with our supporters are one of our most treasured Titans family connections through which the award of fans’ player of the year was made possible.”
The list of rewards are:
First-class cricketer of the year:
Shortlisted: Ethy Mbhalati, Heino Kuhn, Tabraiz Shamsi
Limited overs cricketer of the year
Shortlisted: Grant Thomson, Junior Dala, Albie Morkel
T20 cricketer of the year
Shortlisted: Quinton de Kock, Mangaliso Mosehle, Morkel
Most valuable player of the year
Graeme van Buuren
Newcomer of the year
Shortlisted: Thomson, Lungi Ngidi
Player of the year
Shortlisted: Kuhn, De Kock, Morkel
Player’s player of the year
Shortlisted: De Kock, Kuhn, Shamsi
Fans’ player of the year