The Highveld Lions have opted to do things a bit different with regards to their Ram Slam T20 Challenge campaign this season.
They’ve avoided signing any high-profile international players, haven’t approached new recruits, choosing instead to build from within their existing player base and grant opportunities to young players.
It’s an approach that hasn’t gone too badly and while they’ve only managed two wins in five matches they’ve managed to stay competitive when the results haven’t got their way.
In their most recent fixture they defended a low total against the Knights while also beating the Cape Cobras in the opening fixture. they lost to the Dolphins by a single run on a day when Kevin Pietersen scored a ton, let things slide when losing to the Titans by four wickets and failed to ignite their chase when going down to the Warriors.
“I wouldn’t say we had a great start, we were looking to have won three of the five games so far. We’ve got a very young side and have already had four guys who have made their debuts in this campaign. We’re probably one win short of where we wanted to be,” Lions skipper, Thami Tsolekile said following yesterday’s training session.
“All the games we’ve played we’ve been competitive. For me that’s been the most important thing especially with these youngsters. They are the future of the Lions. Our aim is still to make sure we come in the top three.”
The big plus for the Johannesburg franchise is that they’ve now got four home matches to get through in the second half of the competition and they’ll welcome the Dolphins to the Wanderers on Sunday.
“The good thing for us now is that we’ve got four home games out of five and that’s a huge advantage. We need to make them count,” Tsolekile said.
But to do that they’ll need contributions with both bat and ball and halfway through the short format competition it’s been the bowlers who have led the way.
The spin duo of Aaron Phangiso and Eddie Leie have worked well along with new find Bjorn Fortuin who has made sure the competition among the tweakers is there. There have also been efforts from the quicks with Hardus Viljoen, Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Dwayne Pretorious – who seems to have filled the all-rounder role following Chris Morris’ departure – all putting in the hard yards.
“You can’t really fault the efforts the bowlers have put in. The batters have let us down a little bit. They’ll learn quickly. It’s just a matter of transitioning,” said Tsolekile.