Fine margins as Toyana reflects on the season
"I’m very happy to be now moving to a role I’m so passionate about at the Lions. I’ve always been a fan of young players in the system and hopefully I’ll help the franchise help more young players come through," as he is set to take up a new role as the Lions’ High Performance Coach from May 1.
In an effort to strengthen and build the Lions feeder system of players, this role will see him playing an overarching talent identification, retention and management role of the senior pipeline levels for North West Cricket, Gauteng Cricket Board as well as the Lions Cubs and Lions Academy teams.
It has been a forgettable season for the #LionsCharge after they disappointed in both limited-overs competitions, while their performances in the longer format was also inconsistent enough to challenge
Fine margins were what ultimately left them finishing second last in all three franchise competitions. Toyana’s final season at the helm saw the Lions finish bottom of the Sunfoil Series table with just one win, in their final game, all season, while they ended second last in both the RAM SLAM T20 Challenge and Momentum One Day Cup campaigns.
"It was a tough season for us," Toyana says.
"When I sit now and look back, I think about how close we were compared to where we actually finished. Some of the games were so close, there were really fine margins and it’s really ended in a very disappointing campaign overall.
"In the T20 format we lost games we were supposed to have won, it was the same in the Momentum One Day Cup. The season was like that for us in all the formats where we got close, we were competitive, but just fell short. In the 50-over competition we were just a win away from making the play-offs.
"But that’s what happens when you have a young side. Not to make that as an excuse, but we should have executed better when we put ourselves into those positions. But I know that we were not far off from winning if you look at the positions we were in."
During the season‚ Toyana once again gave opportunities to younger players, namely in the form of Marques Ackerman, Janneman Malan, Nandre Burger, Jonty Rapulane, Dyllan Matthews and Ryan Rickelton‚ who he said all deserved their opportunities in the big time after impressing at junior level.
“Ackerman comes from the North West Dragons‚ he is an old Saints boy and this will be like I am picking boys from St Stithians like ‘KG’ [Kagiso Rabada] and Wiaan.
While Janneman Malan made more than 1 000 first-class runs for North West and brought that form in the Lions setup in the final few rounds of the Momentum One Day Cup
“He is a batter in the top order and he brings energy to the side. He done very well in the past two to three years for the Dragons and he deserved the opportunity.”