Temba Bavuma says team are 'in the zone'
Imperial Lions batsman Temba Bavuma says the defending 4-Day Domestic Series champions are “in the zone” and ready to return to the pitch when the new domestic season kick starts next Monday.
Over the last few weeks, Cricket South Africa (CSA) ended months of tireless work by announcing all the fixtures for 2020/21 and also formally launched the campaign in Hammanskraal last Thursday.
This after the longest off-season in history that was enforced by COVID-19. But with the pandemic now under more control and government restrictions eased, cricket is finally expected to return after more than seven months of being halted.
“It’s something we are really looking forward to especially after being out of action for such a long time,” Proteas star Bavuma said. “So to be out there on the field again will be really nice.
Preparations have been good, all leading up towards that first four-day game on November 2. “There’s a lot of excitement around. With the fixtures now finalised we can really zone in on what we need to do. As players we hate uncertainty and that’s what have had over the past while or so.
“However, now that the path has been cleared it is really a positive mindset from everyone and we just need to make sure we stay focussed and channel all the energy into that first game against the (Hollywoodbets) Dolphins next week.”
Both the first-class and Momentum One-Day Cup competitions have been altered for this season. The six competing teams have been divided into two pools of three teams each, who will play a double round of fixtures against teams in their own pool. There will also be one single round of cross-pool matches, before the top two teams will contest the final.
The Lions are double defending champions in the red-ball tournament and Bavuma is eyeing a rare triple crown.
“We always back ourselves as the Lions and we’ll be confident over our prospects,” he says. “We know that winning the title a third time in a row will not be easy, but it is something that we have set our sights on.
“The format of the competition has also changed this year and the season is cut to seven games, I think it’s even more important that we do start the season well.
“You don’t want to have a difficult start where you fall behind and then by the time you reach the crunch end you find yourself already out of the running. So, we’ll be aiming to hit the ground running.”
The 30-year-old, whose side is pooled with the Dolphins and VKB Knights, is part of a Lions squad that includes no fewer than five contracted Proteas for the opening round – the most of all the franchises.
With South Africa not in action until the latter part of November, it means that all the teams will be bolstered significantly by national players during the opening few rounds.
“I think that strength versus strength is very good and all the teams will have their big guns, except for those players that are at the IPL,” Bavuma added. “That will add very good value for the start of the campaign, especially because everyone is so hungry to get back playing again.”