I can learn from Toy­ana – Nkwe

Saturday Star - - SPORT - STU­ART HESS

THE HIGHVELD Lions’ new head coach Enoch

Nkwe has made build­ing a strong re­la­tion­ship with his pre­de­ces­sor Ge­of­frey Toy­ana one of his pri­or­i­ties as he seeks to re-es­tab­lish the fran­chise at the top ta­ble in do­mes­tic cricket.

Nkwe, 35, has agreed to a three-year con­tract to be­come the Lions coach tak­ing over from Toy­ana who won four tro­phies in his five sea­sons in charge un­til he was re­lieved of his du­ties at the end of last sea­son, with one year still left on his con­tract.

“He’s done some amaz­ing work in the last few years and laid a very good plat­form. He’s proved the Lions can achieve great­ness,” Nkwe said from Haar­lem in the Nether­lands, where has been coach­ing for the last two and a half years.

“I’m look­ing for­ward to work­ing with him and en­sur­ing that Lions cricket keeps mov­ing for­ward. Hope­fully I can build on the foun­da­tions that have been laid and achieve even bet­ter re­sults on top of what’s been achieved in the past.”

There was no suc­cess for the Lions last sum­mer. In­stead the sea­son proved to be a night­mare for the fran­chise, as it failed to mount a de­cent chal­lenge in any of the three com­pe­ti­tions, fin­ish­ing last in the Sun­foil Se­ries, and fifth in both the Ram­slam T20 Chal­lenge and the Mo­men­tum One day Cup.

Toy­ana has been moved into a new po­si­tion as High Per­for­mance Coach for the fran­chise which will see him over­see the de­vel­op­ment struc­tures at the team’s two af­fil­i­ates, Gaut­eng and North West.

The Lions’ ad­min­is­tra­tive hi­er­ar­chy be­lieve a close re­la­tion­ship be­tween Nkwe and Toy­ana will be vi­tal in help­ing to cre­ate a more suc­cess­ful side next sum­mer.

“The High Per­for­mance coach, to my mind, must be able to help a guy, who may not be play­ing well at fran­chise level and has to drop down to the pro­vin­cial set up, to then get back up to the fran­chise side,” said Lions chair­man Oupa Nk­agiseng. “The link be­tween Enoch and Ge­off will hope­fully help us to close some of the gaps be­tween fran­chise and semi-pro­fes­sional level.”

While Nkwe will be the youngest coach among the six fran­chise teams, he brings a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence to the

Lions, which in­cludes his own in­ti­mate knowl­edge of the fran­chise from his time as a player in the late 2000s. Nkwe was a tal­ented all-rounder who was set for higher hours un­til a wrist in­jury cur­tailed his play­ing ca­reer.

Nkwe’s cricket ed­u­ca­tion be­gan in Jo­han­nes­burg at St Stithi­ans Col­lege and he move through the Lions pro­vin­cial struc­tures and into the fran­chise team, play­ing 42 first class matches, 38 lim­ited over games and nine T20s.

He quickly moved into the coach­ing struc­tures work­ing with the pro­vin­cial un­der19 side and then the semipro­fes­sional Gaut­eng Strik­ers team win­ning each of the three pro­vin­cial ti­tles on of­fer in three years with that side.

He moved to the Nether­lands three years ago and was head coach at the Haar­lem­sche club be­fore be­ing hired as a bowl­ing coach for the Dutch na­tional men’s team. More re­cently he’s been back in SA as an as­sis­tant coach for the na­tional women’s team.

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