Lions and Titans need to switch back on quickly

Geoffrey Toyana (Gallo)
Geoffrey Toyana (Gallo)

Cape Town - Highveld Lions coach Geoffrey Toyana and his Titans counterpart Mark Boucher are both hoping to snap their players out of the holiday mode when they lock horns in the first One-Day Cup clash of the year in Johannesburg on Wednesday.

The two meet at the Wanderers Stadium, having won one match so far in the 2017/18 campaign – the hosts beating the Dolphins in a last-ball thriller in their last game, while the visitors thumped the Knights in their only game.

The Lions, however, have lost one match and they sit second-bottom heading into the game, while the Titans, who are reigning champions, were top when the season stopped for the festive break on December 23.

“I'm really happy with the way we ended the year and I feel we did really well to get over the line against the Dolphins,” Toyana said. “The fight the boys showed has really given us hope as we move into the New Year.

“It’s the hope that we need and hopefully we can build on that.”

However, with most people still easing back into work, the players from both sides will need to hit the ground running.

“It is a challenge we all have as coaches and it is going to be tough,” Toyana added. “But we all had a good chat this morning talking about those issues specifically. I’ve stressed to them that all the holidays are now done and dusted. It’s important for us to key in mentally and make sure we hit the ground running.

“And there’s no better way for us to start and key in that than against the Titans in a big game like this one in front of our home fans.”

Boucher says that switching the players back on was his biggest challenge for his Titans side that has looked almost unbeatable in white-ball cricket so far this term.

Just under three weeks ago they won the RAM SLAM T20 Challenge with ease and they looked equally invincible when the 50-over campaign was launched.

“The biggest test, and I always say this, is coming back after a break or holiday period,” Boucher said. “Especially after a successful season so far, it’s easy for the guys to turn off, particularly with their families all still being on holiday, it is a very difficult time of year to play cricket.

“But we’ve spoken about it and sort of chased the elephant out the room. We understand it’s our profession and understand that it’s our own demons we need to take care of.

“Our skills are not going to change after eight or nine days, so I'm not worried about that. We just need to try and stay focussed.”

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