JOHANNESBURG – After a summer in which the players performed well below standard, the Highveld Lions management have resisted the temptation to make wholesale changes to the squad.
Instead the players have been offered the chance at redemption under a new head coach in Enoch Nkwe, while the addition of players from the successful Titans set-up, along with the return of Temba Bavuma from the Cape Cobras, will hopefully raise spirits.
Malusi Siboto and Migael Pretorius are two good additions from the Titans, with Siboto in particular providing leadership and skill to the bowling line-up.
Siboto, who turns 31 in August, has been a significant contributor to the Titans’ success in the last two seasons and cracked the SA A side last summer, producing an admirable display against Australia in Benoni.
Pretorius is a useful young pace bowler - someone Nkwe is keen to work with - and he will provide some much needed zest to an attack that carried the team for much of last season.
With a busy Test summer on the horizon and ambitions of pushing for a Proteas ODI spot, Bavuma’s playing time with the Lions might be limited next season. But his presence in pre-season and at training sessions will be uplifting for the players.
The Lions’ batting struggled last season and for Stephen Cook, who gave up the captaincy last week, Reeza Hendricks, Omphile Ramela and Dominic Hendricks, the 2018/19 season is one where they will have a big point to prove and show they are worthy of the support given to them by Lions’ management.
“The group we have for the upcoming season gives us the option to build a side that can adapt to conditions and requirements,” said Nkwe, who because of his late appointment, was not involved in any player recruitment.
The Lions have been interviewing candidates to assist Nkwe in the coaching department, with a bowling coach at the top of the list. Meanwhile a new captain will be appointed before the end of the month.
The bizhub Highveld Lions squad for 2018/19 is:
Dwaine Pretorius, Reeza Hendricks, Omphile Ramela, Rassie van der Dussen, Beuran Hendricks, Dominic Hendricks, Mangaliso Mosehle, Nicky van den Bergh, Bjorn Fortuin, Wiaan Mulder, Wihan Lubbe, Yaseen Valli, Craig Alexander, Stephen Cook, Aaron Phangiso, Migael Pretorius, Kagiso Rapulana, Ryan Rickelton, Malusi Siboto. Proteas Contracts: Kagiso Rabada, Temba Bavuma