The Lions will head to Port Elizabeth for their season-opening encounter against the Warriors next Monday and will be keen to improve on their last-place finish from last season. Below we preview the Lions team for the season ahead.
The Lions have named a couple of youngsters, along with a lot of familiar faces, in their squad for the upcoming season, as they look to improve on their disappointing 2017-18 campaign. With newly-appointed coach Enoch Nkwe at the helm, the Highveld side will have to up their game immensely this season if they have any intentions of competing for the title.
Not much went right for the Lions during the 2017-18 season as they failed to win any of the domestic titles on offer, let alone compete. The team finished in the bottom two in all competitions during the past season in a highly disappointing display. They only managed one win throughout the 2017-18 4-Day Franchise Series, even though Rassie van der Dussen was the tournament’s top run-scorer as he registered almost 1000 runs. While Aaron Phangiso and Beuran Hendricks each picked up 20 wickets apiece.
The Lions have rewarded the impressive performances from Ryan Rickelton, Kagiso Rapulana and Migael Pretorius at senior provincial level for the CGL Strikers and NW Dragons by naming them as part of the squad for the upcoming season. Malusi Siboto has also been added to the mix after completing a high-profile move from the Titans to add his experience and expertise to a young and developing Lions bowling attack.
Aya Myoli, Carmi le Roux and Nono Pongolo were unable to secure Lions contracts this season but will be looking to make their mark at provincial level in order to break back into the franchise team. Hardus Viljoen continues his three-year Kolpak contract with Derbyshire and isn’t included in the 21-man squad announced by the Lions ahead of the season.
Van der Dussen had a fantastic time with the bat last season and will be hoping to continue on the same vein. With consistent performances throughout the 2017-18 campaign – finishing as the season’s top scorer with 959 runs at an average of 73.76 – he would have been disappointed that his contributions weren’t able to help his team avoid the humiliation of finishing bottom of the table.
The Lions are the dark horses going into this season. They have all the potential to put an impressive campaign together but will definitely still be hurting from the poor results they had last season. They retained most of their players from that lacklustre campaign and it will be interesting to see how they will recover from that.
2018-19 Lions Squad
Dwaine Pretorius, Reeza Hendricks, Omphile Ramela, Rassie van der Dussen, Beuran Hendricks, Dominic Hendricks, Mangaliso Mosehle, Nicky van den Bergh, Bjorn Fortuin, Wiaan Mulder, Wihan Lubbe, Yaseen Valli, Craig Alexander, Stephen Cook, Aaron Phangiso, Migael Pretorius, Kagiso Rapulana, Ryan Rickelton, Malusi Siboto, Kagiso Rabada (Proteas), Temba Bavuma (Proteas)