Geoffrey Toyana and Paul Adams may be in debut seasons as coaches, but their blossoming rivalry is already evident and will once again come to the fore when the bizhub Highveld Lions take on the Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras in the RAM SLAM T20 Challenge on Sunday.
The two franchises have been the stand-outs in South African cricket this season – the men from the Cape winning the Sunfoil Series, followed by the Lions in second place. They also shared the Momentum One-Day Cup trophy and both will fancy their 20-over chances ahead of the clash at Senwes Park in Potchefstroom.
“I’m looking forward to the match against the Cobras,” Lions boss Toyana said. “Paul Adams has already phoned me. Our teams have already had some great battles this season.”
As for his relationship with Adams, he joked: “He is like my nemesis. I am enjoying our battles with one another. We are good friends; we played cricket together when we were younger.
“Hopefully our teams can continue to do well.”
The 38-year-old has transformed the bizhub Highveld Lions from under-achievers in recent seasons to one of the forces of the domestic game. Apart from their success in the four-day and one-day competitions, they caused major shockwaves by reaching the Champions League Twenty20 final hosted by South Africa late last year.
Without any household names, they enjoyed a successful campaign, before losing to the Sydney Sixers in the final. Toyana is confident that this experience will only help last year’s runners-up in pursuit of a trophy they last won in 2006/07.
“It is an advantage to have played T20 cricket so recently,” he added. “The boys know what they are capable of. They surprised themselves in the Champions League and hopefully we can do well in the RAM SLAM.
“We have been playing four-day cricket for about eight weeks and have only had about five or six days’ preparation. Having said that, we have been playing good cricket, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to adapt.”
Adams, 36, was equally bullish about his side’s chances. The Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras are bidding for a third T20 crown, the last of which came in 2010/11. “It’s really an exciting brand, one in which you can be innovative and really express your game,” Adams said. “You get a real chance to show your talent and what you’re capable of.
“We have some good experience mixed with a few younger guys within the squad and we’ll be ready come the opening match on Sunday.”