Lions 'on the right wicket'
Johannesburg - Captain Alviro Petersen believes his plan of turning the Highveld Lions into a formidable four-day unit is complete, saying he expected them to be strong challengers for the Sunfoil Series title this season.
According to the supersport.com website, the opening batsman has been in charge of the Johannesburg franchise since 2010 with his first two full campaigns at the helm helping the team end third and fourth in the first-class game.
They have a solid base of experience and youth with the batting particularly good courtesy of Petersen himself, whose form has been rewarded with a place in the Proteas’ test side.
There is also plenty of experience in Neil McKenzie, Stephen Cook and Zander de Bruyn, while the likes of Temba Bavuma have progressed impressively at the union.
“Since I took over as captain three years ago, I wanted to build a four-day squad which I thought could win the competition and dominate first-class cricket in South Africa for a long time,” Petersen told supersport.com. “I think we’ve done that now, our batting has always been good, I think it’s been our main strength in the last couple of years.
“On the bowling side, we had Chris Morris come through last season and we’ve now signed Hardus Viljoen and also recruited Imran Tahir, so it’s getting toward the sort of squad I wanted to assemble.
“We’ve managed to do what I set out to and now it’s all about performances on the field that will matter most.”
Despite the confidence of Petersen, the squad does appear slightly thin on the bowling front with an out-an-out proven strike bowler missing from the fold.
But the 31-year-old insisted he had no fears.
“I have absolutely no concern with our bowling,” he said. “We’ve got Chris Morris, whose probably one of the quickest bowlers in South Africa at the moment, we’ve got Hardus, one of the most dangerous four-day bowlers, we’ve recruited Imran Tahir and have Eddie Leie as a back-up.
Garnett Kruger is back here at the Lions, we all know about him, and we also have Pume Matshikwe, who performed well last year, so we’ve got them all. There’s no issue with our bowling and I don’t think there will be.”
Asked whether they could be considered as challengers for the Sunfoil Series title, Petersen said he “only played cricket to win”.
The Lions begin their campaign next week when they host the Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras in Potchefstroom.
They play one more fixture against the Sunfoil Dolphins in Johannesburg a week later, before embarking on their Champions League Twenty20 adventure – a reward for being one of the top two domestic 20-over teams last year.
Petersen believes the break will be a good thing for his team and expects the two four-day games to provide the perfect preparation.
He added: “I think it’s a very good thing. Those two games will form a nice base for us going into the Champions League in terms of getting some good cricket under the belt, scoring runs and taking wickets for all our guys.
“It could play a massive role in helping us prepare for that T20 competition.”