Time to make the fans smile again – Bavuma
JOHANNESBURG - After months of obfuscating, in-fighting, plots within plots, Red Weddings-esque backstabbing and hot-potato blame-shaming at the highest administrative level, cricket the game will finally return to its most important stakeholder – the supporters.
That process of building trust, at least at a franchise level, started on Tuesday when the Imperial Highveld Lions launched their 2020/21 season at the Wanderers with a gaggle of new players revealed, reaffirmation from their sponsors and new initiatives to help build awareness around socio-economic problems that blight the country.
“I think the first two rounds (of the 4-day Franchise Series) will be massive for the supporters in that you will have all the Proteas taking part in all their teams” said Lions captain Temba Bavuma.
“From the standard of cricketing point of view that is something supporters can look forward to. You basically got strength versus strength, and that is something that we as players have been calling for. We want to be testing ourselves against the best-of-the-best within the country.
“That in itself presents us an opportunity to get some happy smiles onto the faces of the fans, and to try and bring back the confidence of the people.”
It’s true – it has been a tough few months for the game and Cricket South Africa (CSA), who have no doubt tarnished the image of the whole. The continued battle for the soul, and the money, of cricket, seems to have levelled out in recent days, the curve of maladministration now flattening out, although the skirmishes will still continue into the foreseeable future.
It is something none of the players can control, but ultimately it will be their job to show that despite the woes of CSA, cricket is nevertheless healthy.
And Bavuma was not the only player who believed that getting onto the field, scoring a few runs and taking some wickets would go a long way to start the healing process between the game and its sundered supporter-base. It was a sentiment shared by new singing, and Protea, Lutho Sipamla as well.
“Primarily, what is needed from us, the players, is to put the performances on the field. That’s the way I think we can go about (building confidence with the fans).
“We can’t really say much publicly, it is not our place … The only way we can build confidence is having prepared the way we have prepared now. We’ve put in the work, we’ve worked quite hard in the past 16 weeks and I feel the guys are ready.
"So, we need to go out there, take our preparation, and change that into performances that win games for the Lions,” the quickie said.
Sipamla’s signature on the dotted line is also joined by three new players at the team in Wesley Marshall, Sisanda Magala and Tladi Bokako.
Meanwhile, the Lions also took the opportunity to reveal that Imperial, Enza Construction and Sun International, among others, had extended their sponsorships of the team. Perhaps the most important news of the day, however, was disclosed when it was revealed that the franchise would be teaming up with People Opposing Women Abuse to create awareness, and help in donation drives, to combat the scourge of gender based violence in South Africa.
The new domestic season starts on Monday with the first round of the 4-day Franchise Series.
The Imperial Lions squad:
Temba Bavuma (capt), Rassie van der Dussen (vice-capt), Kagiso Rabada, Reeza Hendricks, Dwaine Pretorius, Beuran Hendricks, Aaron Phangiso (stand-in capt), Nicky van der Bergh, Bjorn Fontein, Wiaan Mulder, Dominic Hendricks, Nono Pongolo, Ryan Rickelton, Eldren Hawken, Kagiso Rapulana, Joshua Richards, Malusi Siboto, Wesley Marshall, Lutho Sipamla, Sisanda Magala and Tladi Bokako
The Star is the official media sponsor of the Imperial Highveld Lions