Highveld Lions coach Enoch Nkwe says it'snot time to press the panic button. Photo: @LionsCricketSA on twitter

JOHANNESBURG – If the Highveld Lions needed any reminding that the journey from the depths of despair last summer will be a long one, they got it at the Wanderers in three punishing days against the Cape Cobras. 

The margin of defeat was a substantial innings and 71 runs and the difference in points earned a mammoth 23. The Cobras won virtually every mini-battle and from top to bottom they outplayed a more experienced Lions team, half of whom had represented the Proteas in one format or another. 

New coach Enoch Nkwe is nowhere near pressing a panic button just yet. The season as he mentioned Thursday, is still too young for that. “We are still working on how we play four-day cricket, the players are still adapting to my philosophy about how we must play four-day cricket. We believe we have the right personnel, it’s about how we play,” he said. 

They played very badly at the Wanderers, particularly in the first two days. The first innings was a wretched display of batting, the execution from nearly all the players was “very poor,” according to Nkwe. 

The Lions huddle during their match against the Cobras. Photo: @LionsCricketSA on twitter
The Lions huddle during their match against the Cobras. Photo: @LionsCricketSA on twitter

The bowling left a lot to be desired too, with Nkwe upset by how badly his side’s attack missed their lengths and the inability to properly implement plans. “We didn’t use our experience; we were not patient in areas that would have tested the opposition,” he said. 

“We’d try something but only for four or five balls, then we’d be bowling bouncers or something different which was disappointing, because it allowed their batsmen to settle.”

Nkwe found some positives from the way his side stuck at it in the field; still chasing balls and taking catches even after 120 overs. 

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“We also batted the way we wanted to in that second innings,” he added. A 46th first class  century from Stephen Cook, a week after he’d notched up his 45th, was the highlight, as were half centuries from Wihan Lubbe and Nicky van den Bergh.

“It’s not the easiest space as a player and a coach, but we were able to talk a lot among ourselves after the first and second days and the way we played in the second innings at least allowed us to leave the dressing-room (on Wednesday) with some positive feelings.”

The Lions have a reasonably lengthy break until their next match, against the Knights also at the Wanderers, that starts on October 22. 

Nkwe will most likely order his bowlers to take a break from bowling but wants a big portion of his squad to give themselves some extra time with the bat on the club circuit. 

“It’s been a pretty tough six weeks for a lot of the guys, from Africa Cup, to our pre-season work which was intense. We also have to be careful because after this break we have three matches back-to-back, and I want guys mentally and physically fresh ahead of those,” he said. 

* The only match this weekend, will be at SuperSport Park in Centurion where the Titans face the Warriors starting on Friday.

The log so far is as follows:

TEAM

M

W

L

T

P

COBRAS

2

2

0

0

49.78

KNIGHTS

2

1

1

0

28.9

LIONS

2

1

1

0

28.54

DOLPHINS

2

0

1

0

20.72

TITANS

1

0

0

0

14.16

WARRIORS

1

0

1

0

6.9


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