There wasn’t much festive cheer for the Highveld Lions these past few days as they absorbed the stunning defeat they suffered at the hands of Chevrolet Warriors last week.
It was a humiliating capitulation – from having a lead of 80 runs on the first innings, to being bowled out for 59 in their second knock, to then losing by 10 wickets – and has possibly done irreparable harm to their chances in the Sunfoil Series.
The first area of concern, naturally is the batting, which folded unceremoniously in the face of some excellent work by Ayabulela Gqamane and, to a slightly lesser extent, Andrew Birch. “To get an 80-run lead on that wicket was a great effort from the boys, but then we had a bad half-hour when we lost a few wickets on that second evening. And then the slide continued, and it was pretty freaky to be bowled out for 59 – I can’t remember playing in any side that got bowled out for that,” said Lions captain Stephen Cook.
“I think the guys have taken the defeat on the chin. They also realise that it’s maybe an anomaly or a once-off, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that because you get bowled out once cheaply that you’re not a good side. So I think the confidence is still there, and the nice thing is that we’ve got a game in a few days and it will be good to get back on the horse.”
Such a short turnaround is about the only solace the batsmen can take from the Wanderers meltdown. They have no other option but to get back on “the horse” and redeem themselves against the Chevrolet Knights starting today.
The attack also needs to be changed. Sadly Garnett Kruger is no longer the bowler he once was – his pace is down and he’s unable to maintain a consistent line – and Geoffery Toyana and the coaching staff need to seriously consider Ethan O’Reilly. Although not the quickest bowler O’Reilly is one of those players who keeps on trying and at the very least Cook will be able to set a field.
The double leg-spinning act of Eddie Leie and Imran Tahir is a bit much – never mind their enthusiasm, both leak too many runs.
While the Lions’ confidence took a major hit, the Knights will be on a high following their first win of the season against the Dolphins last week. Veteran Johan van der Wath had a dream match, making a century and picking up five wickets, and will certainly look to build on that performance as the Knights aim to make a proper run at the Warriors and Cobras who currently top the log.
Chevrolet Warriors v Cape Cobras, East London; Highveld Lions v Chevrolet Knights, Potchefstroom; Sunfoil Dolphins v Nashua Titans, Durban.