Johannesburg – Kicking off on 7 February 2022 in Gqeberha, the CSA T20 Challenge will see the Imperial Lions compete in 6 round-robin matches between 8 – 20 February, with the Semi-Finals commencing on 25 February and the final on 27 February 2022.
We caught up with Imperial Lions Head Coach Wandile Gwavu who says that his side is most certainly looking forward to the competition;
“There’s a lot of excitement for this one – and we’re certainly hoping to take with us the confidence we’ve built from the 4-Day Series because we’ve played well in that thus far. We take great pride in the number of Protea players that the Lions Cricket unit has produced, with many of them off on New Zealand tour now. This bodes well for our Union and is proving to be one of those years where our pipeline will be tested again in terms of not only producing the young cricketers, but also giving them the opportunity. The last two years has bred successful players for us – the likes of Joshua Richards and Ryan Rickelton both of whom have put their hands up and performed at these levels. We look forward to seeing youngsters such as Mitchell van Buuren and Codi Yusuf getting the opportunity in Gqeberha: It will be a competition where we’ll need some youngsters to step up and stake their claim.”
Gwavu goes on to say that as youth-heavy as the squad is, there are also seasoned professionals in the team such as Malusi Siboto, Reeza Hendricks and Sisanda Magala who is by far one of the best death bowlers on the circuit.
“We certainly do have a great mixture of youth and experience and are looking forward to them gelling and getting the best results for the team. We’re also really looking forward to the different conditions that we’ll face in Gqeberha – we haven’t played T20 cricket there for a very long time, and historically speaking, the wicket has always been a good one. We’re anticipating a wicket that may spin which is why we have Bjorn Fortuin and Tshepo Ntuli and are excited to see them exploit the conditions. Our batting unit will need to find a way to adapt as we’re used to playing in the Highveld where its perhaps easier to hit the ball over the top. But we pride ourselves on our adaptability in order to win games.”
“Our preparation has been good thus far, with a few more practices scheduled before we get into the competition. The one thing we want to emphasize as we train is the transition from red ball cricket to white ball – the skills required in the 4-Day is that of discipline, with batters having to leave balls, and has created a good base going forward. We’ll work too on the bowlers death balls and variations. We’re fortunate enough that within our unit, we have some senior players who’ve done what they do for several season now: We will be banking on such guys making a smooth and timeous transition for the T20 tournament.”
In conclusion, Gwavu sends his warm congratulations to those Imperial Lions players who were called up for National duty;
“The Lions have once again produced multiple National players which unquestionably leave gaps in our team. But it depends in which way you view it: Such vacancies are a tremendous way to test our system – which is the best way to know if your system is working well. I believe that Gauteng has been one of the best in the country for many years and we’re not about to stop any time soon: We love to produce players for both the province and the country and will be giving a fair amount of youngsters some great opportunities. We take pride in such success and may it continue for many years. Lions love playing the energetic and exciting T20 format: We’ll play a strong game that thrills our fans as we endeavor to not only unearth talent, but also strive to win the competition. We will enjoy each and every moment that we are together and know to take it one game at a time.”