Lions go for black
WHILE Gauteng cricket remains embroiled in boardroom politicking, with transformation issues at the forefront of the internal strife, black Africans are getting opportunities in the Lions team.
In recent matches, coach Geoffrey Toyana has fielded up to four black Africans in a single match - more than any other side in the Momentum One-Day Cup this season.
Last week, in their six-wicket defeat to the Knights, the Lions had batsmen Grant Mokoena and Themba Bavuma; and bowlers Pumela Matshikwe and Aaron Phangiso in their starting XI, and the players have become regulars in the side.
The Lions made history earlier this year when they appointed Toyana as head coach, and the Soweto-born mentor and former professional player became the first black African to be appointed as coach at such a high level in South Africa.
This paved the way for some of the players contracted at the Lions to get opportunities to showcase their potential.
Under Toyana, 28-year-old left-arm spinner Phangiso has played his best cricket since turning professional in 2004 and made a mark for himself during the Champions League trophy competition where he bagged, among others, the wicket of legendary Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar.
Phangiso's accomplishments in the competition may have been enough to warrant a lucrative contract for next year's Indian Premier League.
Bavuma is one of the prospects tipped to become South Africa's first international black batsmen, after Loots Bosman.
The 22-year-old has shown he has the capabilities to withstand some of the best bowlers on the local scene, although he is yet to fire in the One-Day competition.
The same applies to 25-year-old Mokoena.
Matshikwe is one of the key members of the lethal Lions bowling attack, which includes Hardus Viljoen and Chris Morris.
The players have been an integral part in Toyana's success since taking over the reins, and could be key in the Lions amassing silverware this season.