Domestic / 24 April 2019, 9:42pm / Stuart Hess at the Wanderers
JOHANNESBURG – There were too few people at the Wanderers to call it a crowd.
And you couldn’t really blame anyone for choosing their couches over this dreary CSA T20 Challenge affair between the Lions and the Warriors, not when there was so much football – both local and foreign – to entertain them on Wednesday night.
The non-existent atmosphere matched the quality of the cricket, particularly when the Lions were in the field.
One anguished voice high in the Unity Stand kept admonishing the home team, in between insulting the visitors. “Ag, come on you guys man! How can you play like this,” he implored.
Misfields followed overthrows in the field, while from the bowlers, there were half-volleys, full tosses and long-hops.
It was a lousy display from the Lions as they went down by nine wickets to the Warriors, not really in keeping with how they’ve played hitherto in a competition that has been beset with abandonments owing to rain.
The hosts may have wished the morning rain which fell in these parts had stuck around all day, so poor were they in defence of a mediocre target, after they ended on 144/6 off their 20 overs.
Overall, it was not a display in keeping with coach Enoch Nkwe’s pre-match demands to be more ruthless.
The batting was sluggish to start, although credit deserves to be directed the way of Warriors pacemen Andrew Birch and Lutho Sipamla, who used the new ball well in helpful conditions on a pitch prepared on the western half of the square – which many who have played and coached at this ground believe is where the livelier strips exist.
The Lions scored just 20 runs in the power play, hitting only one boundary in that period.
In fact, after 15 overs of their innings, the Lions’ run-rate was still less than a run a ball.
Only Reeza Hendricks (29) and skipper Temba Bavuma (24) of the front-line batsmen got into double figures.
The Lions needed their all-rounders to give the score a modicum of respectability.
World Cup-bound Dwaine Pretorius played well, finishing not out on 48 (27 balls, 6x4, 2x6), sharing a partnership of 67 for the sixth wicket with Nono Pongolo, who smashed his way to 33 off just 22 balls, 20 of those runs coming off one Birch over.
Jon-Jon Smuts was the most economical of the Warriors bowlers, providing control with his left-arm slow stuff and picking up 1/22 in four overs.
But it was the work of the seamers, Birch and Sipamla, which provided the backbone for the visiting team’s efforts, with both finishing with figures of 1/29.
Whatever hope there was in the Lions camp was quickly snuffed out by an adventurous opening stand for the Warriors by Matthew Breetzke and Gihahn Cloete.
Much is expected of the former, and some of that promise was on display here in the power and timing of some of his strokes in what turned out to be a career-best T20 score of 72 not out off 45 balls, which featured five fours and four sixes.
His opening stand with Cloete (54, 33 balls, 7x4, 2x6) was worth 107, and allowed the visitors to cruise home with 33 balls to spare.
That earned themselves a bonus point in the process, which saw them jump above the Lions into second spot on the T20 Challenge log.