Enoch Nkwe says it is important to put the Mzansi Super League success of his Jozi Stars team to one side when his Highveld Lions squad return to 4-Day Franchise Series action against the Dolphins in Johannesburg on Wednesday.
The home coach led the new MSL T20 franchise to the inaugural title over the weekend, and although it was not a trophy for the Lions, there were plenty of players on their books contracted to the union.
‘It was a very successful tournament,’ Nkwe said ahead of the Wanderers Stadium encounter. ‘It’s something we addressed this morning as a group, not having to get carried away and quickly switch off from that. In a way, put that to bed, and we need to shift the focus on to red ball cricket.
‘It always helps to have half your team with you in the league because you can easily keep tabs on them. Fortunately enough, some of the guys also got involved with the provincial team this past weekend to get some game time, so in general we’re in a really good space.
‘After the meeting and the session this morning, the guys have been very professional and very mature about things. They know exactly what needs to be done now heading back into the four-day game.’
Nkwe is in his first season at the helm of the Lions and his progress as a coach has been well documented. Apart from winning the new blockbuster T20 league, he has kept his team in close touch with the Cape Cobras.
The runaway first-class competition leaders are well ahead of the pack, with 102.86 points. The Lions are second on 91.72, with the VKB Knights (71.56) a distant third.
The round six encounter this week, though, is especially vital for everyone, as it is the last of 2018.
Everyone knows how important this game is,’ Nkwe explained. ‘We’ve made it clear to them how imperative it is to go into the Christmas break on a high.’
As for the Dolphins, they are bottom of the table with three defeats and two draws from the campaign.
However, Nkwe is not taking them for granted, saying: ‘Whatever I’ve said is without any disrespect to the Dolphins.
‘They’re a very dangerous team and will undoubtedly be hurting. They’ll certainly be looking to bounce back strongly, and we’ll have to be ready for them.’
Dolphins captain Khaya Zondo, whose Durban Heat team endured a torrid MSL T20 campaign by ending bottom of the standings, admits it will be a big challenge to switch so quickly from white to red ball cricket.
A result for the Durban side is especially important considering their woes this season.
‘It is going to be quite an adjustment as you are going from one extreme to the other,’ the visiting skipper added. ‘The best thing for us to do is to just go back to the basics individually. We need to change and play within our four-day cricket game plans.’