DURBAN - Former Lions coach Geoffrey Toyana came back from the inaugural Canadian GT20 tournament encouraged and enthused by his brief stint.
Toyana was working with the Edmonton Royals, and he was thoroughly impressed by the slick organisation, as well as the very quick turnaround from talk to cricketing action. “I think that was the most impressive thing. It was about six weeks from the time it was spoken of, and then they put together a really good tournament,” Toyana said upon his return to South Africa this week.
Toyana was pleasantly surprised by the steaming weather in Toronto, and said that the players who came from around the world were also pleased with the event. “When we got there, I couldn’t believe it was 35-40 degrees. They then told us that in the winter, it can go down to about -35, so we definitely got the good weather. It was also quite something to see the game go to another part of the world, and see how much passion there is for it.”
The logistics were contained by keeping all six franchises in the same city, playing at the same venue. That in itself was a remarkable feat, because the playing surface managed to absorb the relentless action over the fortnight.
“The ground was decent, and I was amazed by the condition of the pitch. It was a challenge to play so many games there, but they managed to make it work. There were a lot of very encouraging aspects there, and no one complained.”
With his South African cricket thinking cap on, Toyana said he realised that the much-maligned Global League T20 tournament could also be a success, as long as all the key players were on the same page.
“I think that is the key. If everyone is on the same side, there really is no reason why it can’t succeed in South Africa," he said. "The best thing I saw was what the tournament meant to the young Canadian players, to be able to share a field and dressing-room with international stars.
“That will accelerate their cricketing progress hugely, and it is for that reason that South Africa needs to get its tournament going. The development potential is huge, and we have already seen what the IPL has done for Indian cricket. Kids are coming up from all over the place, and going on to play for their country."
For himself, the trip was also a great networking platform. As he readies himself to head the Lions High Performance Programme, Toyana said he valued the time he got to pick the brains of some legends.
“Rubbing shoulders and sharing ideas with guys like Tom Moody and Waqar Younis is a huge feather in my cap. It was a wonderful experience, and I would love to go back to the next one,” he said excitedly.
Toyana was signed with the Benoni Zalmi outfit when the GLT20 auction happened last year. It remains to be seen whether he will still be in those colours, if and when the South African version of T20 cricket finally takes flight.