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Ken Borland

Signing of Delport & Jones loans formidable look to white-ball Lions 0

Posted on May 26, 2022 by Ken

The Central Gauteng Lions may have just won the One-Day Cup, but the signing of explosive batsmen Cameron Delport and Evan Jones, both of whom are also part-time seamers, loans an even more formidable look to their white-ball squads for 2022/23.

Despite their incredible, Reeza Hendricks inspired victory in the One-Day Cup final against the Northerns Titans, the Lions have taken a pragmatic view in their recruiting for next season. Losing most of their side to national call-ups, they struggled in the CSA T20 Challenge, finishing second-last, and they were certainly the underdogs in the 50-over final.

Although their four-day campaign ended in disappointment, finishing third after holding top spot for most of the competition, the fact that there are 30 promotion/relegation points on offer for limited-overs cricket and just 15 for the first-class game, has convinced the Lions to concentrate on the white-ball game.

They were in danger of being dragged into next season’s relegation battle before winning the One-Day Cup, but after 2021/22 they are now second, 12 points behind the Titans.

The 32-year-old Delport has been signed from the KZN Inland Tuskers and is a global T20 nomad who has scored more runs in the format than any other batsman who has not played for their country. The left-handed opener scores at a strike-rate of 139 in T20s and 105 in 50-over cricket.

The 25-year-old, Pretoria-born Jones averages 71 in first-class cricket and has a strike-rate of 95 in one-dayers and 153 in T20s. A dominant presence at the crease, he led the Northern Cape charge to the top of the Division II standings with his destructive batting.

“There were a couple of spots open and certain players we wanted to attract,” CGL chief executive Jono Leaf-Wright told The Citizen. “Evan and Cameron are both really strong white-ball batsmen.

“Our T20 campaign was not great and we decided to push the reset button and make strategic signings.

“Winning the One-Day Cup was a relief because we were in the middle of the promotion/relegation pool after the bitter pill of our four-day finish and the T20 Challenge. Now we are second.

“Seven players left us to play for South Africa, that’s our role, to keep providing players for the national team, but to lose them meant we were victims of our own success. We have to make sure the depth of the talent pool is there,” Leaf-Wright said.

Bjorn Fortuin, who played a crucial role in getting the Lions across the finish line in the One-Day Cup final, has been rewarded with a two-year contract, joining Sisanda Magala, Ryan Rickelton, Dominic Hendricks and Lutho Sipamla in that category.

Duanne Olivier, Mitchell van Buuren and Codi Yusuf have signed new contracts with the Lions, while wicketkeeper/batsman Ruan Haasbroek and spinner Tshepo Ntuli have been released.

Former SA U19 captain Wandile Makwetu has decided to cross the Vaal River and join Central Gauteng from the Free State Knights, but he has not been contracted.

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