The bizhub Highveld Lions have utilised the rare rest period between the previous season and the next and are ready to release some of their trademark thunder in the coming season. With a finalised contracted squad and confidence stemming from their Sunfoil Series trophy win at the end of the 2014/15 season, Chief Executive Greg Fredericks predicts good things for the franchise. Fredericks says: ‘The past season saw great achievements but also provided insight into what the franchise could use and improve on to gain the competitive edge that all teams are after. Our contracted squad are a group of individuals set on achieving success both as a unit and as individuals. I am confident that we will be able to continue on the high note from last season with a team that is fully committed to our goal of being the best franchise team in this country and beyond. We will continue to work harder and smarter. We have full confidence that Geoff and his management team will put in the effort and hours to take us forward. I know rumours have been doing the rounds about stalwart Neil McKenzie’s retirement but I am happy to confirm that he will still represent us in certain formats of the game. Other senior players that will be adding to our depth are Alviro Petersen, Stephen Cook, Hardus Viljoen, Temba Bavuma, Thami Tsolekile and Aaron Phangiso. We have lost two key players in Chris Morris and Quinton De Kock but we have confidence in our pipeline that have produced the talent from school level upwards. We are proud that we are setting the tone as a transformed franchise as can be seen from the Black African players who represent us and who are performing for us.’
Head coach, Geoffrey Toyana, acknowledges that this will be a true test of the group of players representing the franchise in the coming season and feels the unit will be better prepared for selection challenges. Toyana says: ‘We faced some unique circumstances relating to injuries and national selection. If there is one lesson that we have learnt in the past season, it is to ensure that we have players that are good enough to step up when they are needed if we are to continue delivering more trophies. I am happy with the young players like Bjorn Fortuin, Eddie Leie and Kagiso Rabada that have made their mark for us. This shows that Gauteng Cricket and North West have invested a lot in players starting from grassroots cricket and I am happy to say that we are able to find the depth we need within our own ranks.’ The franchise is not only optimistic about their performance on the field in the coming season but look forward to sharing news about their commercial portfolio soon.
Fredericks says: ‘The off-season period has been a busy one for us and we hope to bring the game closer to our fans and supporters around the world come September.’ The 2015/16 contracted squad are as follows:
Temba Bavuma, Devon Conway, Stephen Cook, Bjorn Fortuin, Dominic Hendricks, Sean Jamison, Eddie Leie, Pumelela Matshikwe, Neil McKenzie, Alviro Peterson, Aaron Phangiso, Shaylen Pillay, Nono Pongolo, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Jean Symes, Thami Tsolekile, Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Rassie Van Der Dussen, Hardus Viljoen
Photo credit: Duif Du Toit/Gallo Images