It is a measure of the Highveld Lions’ success that their biggest concern after two matches in the Momentum 1-day Cup is the fact they’ve spent just 54.3 overs in the field.
Not that Geoffrey Toyana is displeased. How could a coach be when the opposition in the Lions’ first two matches were bowled out for a combined total of 170 runs. “The guys are working really well together and there’s a nice balance to our attack,” Toyana said from Cape Town yesterday where the team wrapped up preparations for tonight’s match against the Cape Cobras at Newlands.
It’s been a heck of a turn around for a side whose bowling has in recent years been their biggest “weakness”.
“We made a strategic signing when we acquired Hardus Viljoen,” Toyana explained. “We’d developed Chris Morris and he came along nicely last season, and we needed someone with pace, and Hardus has given us that.
“Now you add them with Phangie (Aaron Phangiso) and you’ve got an attack that covers all the areas, we’ve got a very good balance now.”
Viljoen’s been outstanding, claiming 6/19 against the Titans and then 4/17 in Wednesday’s win against the Warriors.
Perhaps Toyana’s biggest challenge is keeping everyone’s focus on what comes next. Confidence is one thing, complacency can be problematic. “Yes, we have to keep our feet on the ground. It’s very important we don’t become overawed by our achievements.”
Tonight’s match will help in that regard – “they are the only domestic side to beat us this season,” Toyana said – recalling the innings defeat the Cobras inflicted on them at Potchefstroom in the Sunfoil Series. “I know Paul (Adams) will have them ready. (Andrew) Puttick made a hundred (against the Titans on Wednesday) and they’ve got Langers (Charl Langeveldt) and Kempy (Justin Kemp) so there’s a lot of experience. They are very dangerous.”
There are concerns over Jean Symes who consulted a doctor yesterday after contracting flu last week. Toyana said it worsened yesterday morning, jeopardising his chances of playing tonight.
Highveld Lions (likely): Stephen Cook (capt), Gulam Bodi, Quinton de Kock, Neil McKenzie, Temba Bavuma, Zander de Bruyn, Jean Symes, Chris Morris, Hardus Viljoen, Aaron Phangiso, Ethan O’Reilly, Pumelela Matshikwe.
Cobras (likely): Andrew Puttick, Richard Levi, Dane Vilas, Stiaan van Zyl, Justin Ontong (capt), Justin Kemp, Mohammed Vallie, Alastair Gray, Dane Piedt, Charl Langeveldt, Beuran Hendricks.
Today (start 3pm): Cape Cobras v Highveld Lions, Newlands; Dolphins v Warriors, Durban.
Sunday (start 10am): Highveld Lions v Dolphins, Wanderers, Titans v Knights, Centurion.