Toyana launches new Lions era
Geoffrey Toyana (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - New coach Geoffrey Toyana is aiming to “hit the ground running” when his tenure as Highveld Lions mentor begins with the launch of the new South African cricket season on Thursday.
The Lions host the Cape Cobras at Senwes Park in Potchefstroom, a clash that will be the first competitive one for Toyana.
The 38-year-old made history in July when he was named the first black African coach of a top-flight domestic team and he is targeting a fast start for his team.
“The players must relax, I want them to start enjoying playing cricket again, that has been missing,” the former assistant coach said. “But we want to hit the season running.
“We tend to only wake up after two or three games, so I've emphasised that we need a good start.”
The Lions last won the four-day title 12 years ago, but Toyana is confident they have a squad capable of ending that drought.
“In the past our strength has been our batting and our problem was the bowling,” he said. “But that's now been solved because we've signed Hardus Viljoen and Imran Tahir, and there's Chris Morris coming through as well.
“The biggest thing is for us to play good, consistent cricket.”
Viljoen and Morris were considered minor doubts for the game at the start of the week, but Toyana expected them to play.
The match is also a repeat of the final game of the last campaign when the visitors were famously denied the title.
However, that was mainly due to weather and the lethal manner in which the Titans demolished the Dolphins on that same weekend.
“The Cobras are always a tough side to play against,” Toyana added. “I think for us playing at home will be key.
“They’re a quality side, there’s no doubt about that. So it will be a tough game, but we’ll be giving it a real go.”
The men from Cape Town have also endured change in their coaching ranks with Paul Adams at the helm.
The match will also mark the official start of his tenure and the former Proteas’ spinner says they are even more determined to win the title in 2012/13 after the sad end to last season.
“Obviously we were a bit disappointed with last year, so it’s about getting that focus together and working on the processes to be able to get that final result,” he said. “We’ve always been a very consistent four-day cricket side, we pride ourselves on it as the Cobras and I’m confident we’ll come back strongly.”
The Cobras won the title for successive seasons before their reign was ended.