JOHANNESBURG - Despite what has been a poor campaign for Dwaine Pretorius in the RamSlam T20 Challenge, Highveld Lions coach Geoffrey Toyana believes he still has a major role to play as the Lions try to secure a semi-final spot.
The 28-year-old all-rounder has under-performed in a Lions shirt this season and was even dropped from the starting team during the Lions’ Western Cape road-trip.
“All his troubles are mental,” said Toyana. “He’s a guy who expects a lot from himself. He trains hard, it’s him putting himself under pressure to perform. The key thing for him is to clear his mind, do the basics right, he’ll come through.”
That pressure to perform seems to be a result of the competition that exists between a host of seam bowling all-rounders for spots in the national team. New Proteas coach Ottis Gibson, in casting the selection net wide as he tests out candidates for the 2019 World Cup, has stated he’d be happy to take as many all-rounders as possible to England in 18 months' time.
In trying to set himself apart, Pretorius, who played in two ODIs and a T20 International against Bangladesh earlier in the season, has seemingly lost control of the fundamentals.
In four RamSlam innings he’s scored just 51 runs off 45 balls, while with the ball his economy rate is 10.91, 2.5 points more than his career average.
Toyana said he’d chatted to Pretorius and emphasised that he has to relax while also letting him know he continues to have the support of the coaching staff and his teammates.
It would be timely for the Lions if Pretorius can find anything approaching his best form in the last week of round-robin play. The Lions are one of three teams on 12 points in a log-jam that sees the second-placed Cape Cobras separated from the bottom-placed Warriors by just four points.
The Lions face the Dolphins in Durban today, and the first thing Toyana did this week was check the KZN weather forecast. “Ja, 80 percent chance of rain,” he lamented.
The Dolphins have been unable to play any matches at Kingsmead in the tournament owing to the weather, and Toyana said it will only add to the pressure for the final two league matches, both of which are home ties.
“We’ve made things difficult for ourselves. We lost two games (against the Cobras and Warriors) that we should not have lost. We are under pressure now, but so is everyone.
“Everyone knows what happens in Durban, there’s rain forecast again on Wednesday, but we can’t control the weather; it’s key that we focus on the job at hand.”