Johannesburg, 10 May 2024

The 2023/24 season for the DP World Lions men’s team, served as a superb example of winning trophies coupled with the production of players for National duty.

Our #ThePrideOfJozi claimed both the four-day series and CSA T20 Challenge titles in a marvellous first season under the coaching of Russell Domingo. In addition they will provide four members of the Proteas T20 World Cup squad and another four for the South African team that will play the West Indies in a warm-up series.

“It’s part of the job to be a winning franchise and to also produce players for the country,” former Proteas coach Domingo said. “So I’m glad we have some players in the national squad, and I’m particularly pleased for Bjorn Fortuin and Ryan Rickelton, who have been recalled. We are blessed at the DP World Lions to have myself who has coached internationally, and Hashim Amla and Allan Donald, who are greats of the game. So we have seen the standard at the top and so we get the players to play a brand of cricket that we know will succeed at international level, and not just what works at domestic level and will be enough to win trophies.”

“So we are constantly asking ourselves, ‘Are the players’ disciplines good enough for international cricket?’ A few of them have needed to upskill in terms of training, preparation and technique,” Domingo said.

With all the talent at his disposal, Domingo admitted that selection was often not an easy task and he gave special praise to the fringe players who never had a firm place in the side but were always willing to enthusiastically contribute to the spirit of the Pride.

“What pleased me most about the season was the way the guys stuck at it. There were some really difficult selections because we have so many good players. There are guys who really did not play a lot of cricket, but still brought plenty of energy and commitment. There was a great vibe in the camp and the players deserve a lot of credit for that. Guys like Zubayr Hamza in the T20, Connor Esterhuizen and Junaid Dawood will be disappointed they did not get more game-time. Mitchell van Buuren had some brutal selection calls, not only was he a consistent run-scorer but the ultimate team player and it was really heartbreaking to leave him out of two finals. Selection was not easy but the players all embraced and understood our calls and gave 100%,” Domingo said.

Bjorn Fortuin just kept on churning out performances for the DP World Lions, being the leading wicket-taker for the team in the first-class and 50-over competitions, and second only to new sensation Nqaba Peter in the T20.

Ryan Rickelton consistently displayed his capabilities with the bat across all three formats, and his combination with stalwarts Reeza Hendricks and Rassie van der Dussen at the top of the order was a major factor in the T20 triumph.

Wiaan Mulder was the ultimate all-rounder, bringing high skill levels and ability in all conditions, while Hamza’s offerings with the bat were always useful and very pleasing to the eye.

But while these players were the core of the fabulous #ThePrideOfJozi, the players pushing up from below are equally important.

The depth of our DP World Lions squad is also impressive, with the likes of Codi Yusuf, leg-spinner Peter, Van Buuren, Esterhuizen, four-day series final hero Delano Potgieter and Mohammed Manack all being carefully watched and groomed.

Yusuf, in particular, is an under-rated cricketer, taking 21 wickets in the four-day competition and 16 in the T20. He is also useful with the bat and his scores of 34 and 46 in the four-day final were absolutely crucial as he shared lower-order partnerships of 55 and 118 with Potgieter.

“Codi always had to fight for his place, but he played a massive role for us this season,” Domingo said. “He took wickets regularly in the four-day competition and then his runs in the final were vital. He’s also an excellent fielder. I think Codi has a great deal of potential, especially as he gets stronger and understands the game more. He’s got skill and he’s a great kid too.”

“Nqaba began his first season as someone who was unheard of, now he is well-known, so he is clearly a name to go forward with, especially in terms of the SA20 and maybe the next World Cup. The special thing about him is that he bowls quickly and he has great control. There are a whole bunch of youngsters coming through who have a lot of potential and next season is going to be another cracker!” Domingo concluded proudly.