Photo Credit: Cricket South Africa
Imperial Lions coach Wandile Gwavu says he is delighted that his team have been crowned 4-Day Domestic Series champions after the season was prematurely ended last week due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) Board of Directors and Members’ Council both endorsed recommendations of the Interim Director of Cricket, Graeme Smith, that tournament titles for the 2019/20 term are awarded in accordance with log standings across the men’s franchise and senior provincial tournaments as well as the women’s leagues.
It meant that Gwavu’s team claimed the title ahead of the Momentum Multiply Titans, two games early.
The Johannesburg-based franchise finished with 121,62 points, while their cross Jukskei rivals ended on 113,16.
“It’s a great feeling,” Gwavu says. “This is probably the toughest competition to win on the local circuit and to have done it two seasons in a row, defending the title, is actually one of the toughest things to do.
“So, I am delighted to have won the four-day title and I have to give a lot of credit to the players and everybody whose involved with Lions Cricket for doing such a great job in helping us retain the title.”
All celebrations for the Lions, however, are on ice for the next three weeks at least. “The pandemic is a very serious matter and the guys will be staying at home, so there will be no celebrating just yet,” Gwavu explained.
“Rather be at home and stay with your families where it’s safe, so celebrations are on ice for now.
“The time for that will come. Whether it is in the next month or not it will still be there. It’s not going anywhere, so we’ll celebrate when we get together the next time.”
Gwavu side had dominated the first half of the campaign when they won three out of their first five games.
But they lost their way slightly in 2020 as back-to-back losses had opened up the door for the chasing pack.
However, their coach believes they were still the best team over the course of the season. “Ideally, we would have loved for the whole competition to go right through to the end, but we’ll take this one,” Gwavu added.
“It (this win) certainly doesn’t feel the same because I was part of the team that won the competition last season where we won it on the last day of the season.
“It was certainly a different feeling then and I would have liked to have completed the campaign. But for us to be on the top where we are when the season stopped after eight games, it means we’ve played some good cricket.
“I know that we lost two bad matches but that doesn’t take away anything. At the end of the day, we managed to get four wins and that is two more than any other team.
“You have to give a lot of credit to our players. I know we would have loved for the competition to go all the way, but as I said, it is what it is and I’m proud that we are champions.”