Geoffrey Toyana future at the Lions hangs in the balance. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix
Geoffrey Toyana’s future as Highveld Lions coach is hanging by a thread, with members of the franchise’s principal affiliate, the Gauteng Cricket Board, wanting him dismissed sooner rather than later.

Toyana, who has guided the Lions to three trophies since taking over the head coaching position, still has one year left on his current contract. However the Lions have experienced a torrid time of it - they finished fifth in the One-Day Cup and T20 Challenge competitions, and they’re currently rooted to the bottom of the Sunfoil Series log, the only team to have lost two matches.

GCB chief executive Greg Fredericks said the the board remains in “discussion” with Toyana and his representatives about his future.

On the one hand, the loss of a strong senior core of Neil McKenzie, and the suspensions for their involvement in a match-fixing scandal two seasons ago of Alviro Petersen and Thami Tsolekile, have proved blows the Lions have seemingly failed to overcome. And while the Lions signed the likes of Mangaliso Mosehle and Omphile Ramela, they, despite their experience, haven’t been able replacements.

That’s left the spotlight on Toyana, who was a candidate for the Proteas head coach position. He missed out there and the assistant post, which went to Malibongwe Maketa.

Fredericks said that for now, Toyana would remain in position, with just two more matches left before the season ends. “Geoff will take charge next week (against the Dolphins) and the last game ... for the rest of this season, there will be no change.”

Resolving the coaching matter is critical for the Lions as new signings for next summer need to be made now, after CSA’s announcement of the recipients of national contracts earlier this week. Two senior Lions players who were contracted last year were not among those players; Stephen Cook and Aaron Phangiso. If the Lions are looking at a new coach, that person will need to be in place soon or have to agree to work with players he had no role in choosing.

In addition, the GCB’s various finance committees need to find room in the budget for a Director of Coaching position, something Fredericks believes is critical to the improvement of standard in the province. “For me having someone in that position is a no-brainer. We need someone who can provide that link between our development pipeline, from high school cricket through to the senior franchise team.”

* The status of the inquiry into the setting up of an impromptu meeting between CSA’s stand-in CEO Thabang Moroe and a group of sports journalists at the Wanderers a few weeks ago, seems to have taken a more serious turn. GCB president Jack Madiseng has appointed two board members to report to him about their findings regarding the illicit engagement, which occurred without the say-so or knowledge of CSA’s media department.