Johannesburg – As defending champions of the One Day Cup, The Imperial Lions are the 2021/ 22 CSA One Day Cup Champions for the 2nd consecutive year, after a tense final match of the season against their neighbors Momentum Multiply Titans.
The Pride’s One Day Cup journey, was the ultimate in teamwork – with continuous noteworthy performances across all three formats of the game. Players performed, staff excelled, and sponsors supported from first ball to final over.
In the build up to the season, the team summited Mafadi, South Africa’s highest mountain at 3,446 metres, the peak of which borders South Africa and Lesotho. The 4-day hike tested even the strongest of wills: There were tears, triumphs and definitive teamwork, which no doubt contributed significantly to the testing season that has been, so says Lions Cricket CEO Jono Leaf-Wright;
“That pre-season build up far exceeded expectations – players experienced mental and physical fatigue but how symbolic that experience has been of our season: The boys became a closer unit, a team that last night conquered the 50 over Cup despite the ups and downs’. Our performance was indicative of ‘The Lions Way’: Never give up, team first and care. We lost many a player due to National Duty this season, something though that we are extremely proud of, but also something that tests your pipeline as new players are required to step up and step up, they certainly did. With the team blended with youth and experience the season was filled with great learning but always great unity from this special group.”
Captain Dominic Hendricks, who lists this tournament as his favourite, says that winning it for the fans was of top priority;
“What a phenomenal victory – chasing 319 in a final was a mammoth effort and I am extremely proud of the boys – we really pulled through. We accomplished something that will be remembered for many years to come. The first half of the season was quite disappointing, not featuring as much as we would’ve liked to in the various competitions. This one is for the fans – we’re delighted to have won a trophy for them and take great pride in putting a smile on the faces not only for those who attended the game, but for those watching at home too. We couldn’t have done it without them.”
Head Coach Wandile Gwavu says that his men wore the Lions Cricket badge with pride, and performed as if their lives depended on it;
“It’s been a very testing and challenging season, but we can be proud of ourselves as a unit, which is a mainly young and less experienced one. But as it has been many times: It doesn’t matter how you start, but how you finish – and a lot of people are going to remember that final: What a special knock from Reeza. We’ve unearthed some special youngsters – and for that I am so proud because it’s not normal that so many less experienced youngsters have stepped up like they have… that’s The Lions Way. We dominated the 4-day season, but never clinched it – but that’s cricket… that’s life. I would like to thank everyone for a positive and consistent language throughout the season – and especially the leadership shown from Magala, Malusi, Dom Hendricks and Bjorn Fortuin for always believing in a team which could promise so much. In addition, I am so appreciative of the support we received outside of the changeroom – we so appreciate the support not only from our fans, but for the back-office staff too. We had a great season where we learnt so much and actually cannot wait for next season. Thank you to our sponsors: We know that lifting that trophy meant as much to you as it did to us.”
Jono Leaf-Wright says that the victory goes beyond the boundary;
“Our players will be the first to acknowledge that this victory is as a result of many wonderful staff members, sponsors, fans, and a very supportive Board as well as a Pipeline system of schools, universities and clubs that help produce players that can win, a truly dedicated Lions Family team on so many levels – so many of whom were present last evening. A big thank you to all our partners who stood with us throughout the season and for their constant support. A special gratitude to all the Lions staff and fans for flying the Pride of Jozi flag high, for singing and celebrating with us. We not only won on the field last night but won off it as well. Our pride consists of genuine, warm, passionate people who go above and beyond in order to ensure that our players are suitably equipped to excel and dream big. What a TEAM effort lifting the trophy last night was and as Lions Cricket we certainly showed that as Team Lions, Together Everyone Achieves More!”