Johannesburg - The bizhub Highveld Lions are back in Potchefstroom on Wednesday evening, hoping for a better pitch on which to play, but more importantly needing a better performance than their last outing on Sunday against the Dolphins.
The nature of this year’s Momentum One-Day Cup is such that it doesn’t allow teams to wallow in self-pity, because matches come thick and fast - however on the flip-side there’s not a lot of time to analyse and try to eradicate errors.
The Lions made plenty of those on Sunday, admittedly in a match heavily influenced by a shoddy pitch.
Ultimately winning the toss proved vital on a surface which was two-paced and had uneven bounce.
However, if Geoffrey Toyana’s team were honest with themselves, they would have reflected on some poor application by some of their batsmen while the bowlers didn’t utilise the pitch as well as the Dolphins’ bowlers.
“We just didn’t have any of those outstanding performances where somebody stood up and took the game by the scruff of the neck,” Cook said of the six-wicket loss to the Dolphins. “We sort of stayed in the game - everyone did okay.”
This afternoon, they play a Chevrolet Warriors outfit which escaped Kimberley with a remarkable win thanks to a career-best performance by Wayne Parnell, who took 6/51 as they beat the Knights by 11 runs.
The Warriors are a dangerous unit, with flair in their batting, backed up by a well-rounded bowling unit that on paper anyway, is second only to the Lions in terms of quality.
Parnell did an excellent job leading that attack in Kimberley, and received fine support from Rusty Theron and Andrew Birch. If the pitch is in anyway resembles the haphazard one used Sunday, that attack is more than capable of making it work for them.
The Lions need to lift their play overall. Of course their preparation for this encounter, like for the first hasn’t been helped by the number of injuries and call-ups to the national side which they’ve endured.
Toyana is giving kingpin Neil McKenzie, who missed the opening match, until Wednesday morning to prove his fitness for this evening’s encounter.
McKenzie damaged abdominal muscles in India during the Champions League T20, and his experience was missed in those tricky conditions the Lions endured Sunday.
If McKenzie is absent again, the emphasis falls on Cook and Jean Symes to carry most of the load. Rassi van der Dussen and Devon Conway looked good at the weekend but remain too inexperienced to demand that they do the bulk of the scoring.
As the Lions’ main weapon the bowling unit as a whole need to step up. Lonwabo Tsotsobe was excellent in his first spell, but Hardus Viljoen was erratic and Chris Morris looked lethargic.
If the Lions are going to be without McKenzie and with Alviro Petersen away for another 12 days, then that star-studded trio of quicks will need to carry the Lions.
“We’re not doom and gloom about things, though; we know we weren’t at our best, but the games come so thick and fast that you can bounce back almost straight away,” said Cook.
Highveld Lions (from): Stephen Cook (Captain), Temba Bavuma, Devon Conway, Neil McKenzie, Quinton de Kock, Eddie Leie, Christopher Morris, Matthew McGillivray, Ethan O’Reilly, Aaron Phangiso, Shaylen Pillay, Jean Symes, Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Rassie van der Dussen, Hardus Viljoen.