The Imperial Lions have enjoyed two straight wins in the CSA 4-Day Franchise Series thus far. Assistant Coach Jimmy Kgamadi talks wins, learnings, discipline and level-headedness.

Johannesburg – Having joined the Imperial Lions in June 2021, the talented footballer who has a soft spot for braai meat, pap and salad, says he couldn’t wait to start his new job. We caught up with the joker of the team, the man never short of a smile: Here’s what he had to say.

  • Talk to us about your build up to this season?

Myself, alongside Head Coach Wandile Gwavu, batting coach JP Duminy, bowling coach Piet Botha, High Performance Manager Prasanna Agoram and head of Strength and Conditioning Nandile Tyali worked extensively in order to ensure our players were ready for the season ahead. We had to keep in mind that only a handful of senior players would be available for us due to National obligations – a good problem to have mind you! We had to make sure that the new players would be up to speed and prepare them the Lions way – to the level the brand expects of them.

  • The CSA T20 Knock-Out Challenge: The disappointment, the learnings, the growth:

We certainly were looking forward to the revised cricket structure and rollout thereof, with the season kicking off with the T20 in a BSE in Kimberly – a tournament which certainly did not disappoint. We were in Pool A, playing three matches in three days, winning two and losing one. It was a tightly fought pool with all three teams sitting on 8 points and only separated by the net run rate – which was exactly how we missed out on going through to the next round.

Despite not qualifying, I was proud of our players passion and professionalism – showing glimpses of greatness and potentially powerful performances.

  • The CSA 4-Day Franchise Series has seen two wins from two thus far. Your thoughts on both the past matches as well as games to come?

Our first game was against North West Dragons at home – a thrilling win concluded in just two and a half days. Our team bowled well, especially our seamers, leaving our batsmen the job of reaching the first innings target set by Dragons of 159. They did so with aplomb, posting 408 and setting us up nicely for our first win of the series.

Our second game was against the Warriors in Qgeberha, on a tricky batting wicket. We claimed the victory by an innings and 20 runs, with our batsman chipping in with great partnerships and glimpses of guys getting big runs despite a pitch that allowed the ball to swing even more so than it normally would in such windy conditions. That’s what pleased me the most: Our guys getting good starts, tackling each ball as it came, steady focus and keeping their heads. I was thrilled that our lower order batsmen also built up meaningful partnerships, adding to the team target.

I thought that our bowling performance in this match was brilliant – because at no stage did we ever even give the Warriors a sniff: Their first innings all out was 96 and second innings was 54 runs. Lutho Sipamla claimed an impressive 7 wickets, Duanne Olivier with 4, Sisanda Magala bagging 6 and Malusi Siboto with 3 wickets. Our seamers bowled with great accuracy, speed and control.

  • Talk to us about now: How you feeling, your thoughts on what’s ahead?

In a nutshell thus far, our 4 seamers have been outstanding with admirable execution of their skills resulting in teams having been well and truly bowled. Getting 10 wickets in an innings is not an easy task. Our senior batsmen have been top-notch too – the likes of Ryan Rickelton, Dominic Hendricks, Joshua Richards and Kagiso Rapulana have all been superb, leading by example in making sure that the team has good starts and there’s runs on the board.

I am very excited for our next match (18 November 2021 vs GbetsRocks) coming off these two wins. We are not however disillusioned – all three remaining games this side of the year are going to be tough. As the Imperial Lions, we would like to close off the year in a top position.

The side feels strong, is confident, growing and hungry. I personally cannot wait to see more players continue to thrive and whilst the road ahead is still a very long one, I say: Bring it On!

Being out there in the park is what we need and what we love, because we are building something special here.

Thank you to management, my colleagues, players and all Imperial Lions fans for their support: I count myself extremely privileged to partake in the game I love so dearly. @LionsCricket #ThePrideOfJozi #LionsCricket