Why the Lions chose to polish these two diamonds

Lutho Sipamla. Photo: Gallo Images.

The Joburg-based franchise made waves this week by poaching by Lutho Sipamla and Sisanda Magala for next season.

Highveld Lions coach Wandile Gwavu has always rated Lutho Sipamla as being amongst the country’s best talents but when fellow Warriors cricketer Sisanda Magala creamed four sixes in the final over of their Momentum One-Day Cup match at the Wanderers at the start of the month, he knew the all-rounder also possessed something special.

Both fast bowler Sipamla, who has played four ODIs and 5 T20s for South Africa, and Magala have been lured from the Eastern Cape and will play for the Lions next season.

Magala does not have the sheer pace of Sipamla, but he can bowl a very heavy ball and, apart from his ability to hit the blockhole at the death, has the ability to go on destructive streaks of wicket-taking.

Sisanda Magala of the Warriors during the Momentum One Day Cup match between Imperial Lions and Warriors at Imperial Wanderers Stadium on March 01, 2020 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images)

He has 19 five-wicket hauls across all formats for the Warriors and Eastern Province, and has been on the fringes of the national side.

“Magala has x-factor, and not only with the ball. He smacked us around with the bat in our last game and he’s also a very good fielder, I’ve seen him take some great catches. I believe there’s still more to come from him as a cricketer and we will try and make him one of the best all-rounders in South Africa. The Lions are the change of environment Sisanda wanted, he has achieved a lot in the Eastern Cape but he needed an extra push to get him out of his comfort zone.

“I always knew Lutho was the type of cricketer I wanted and I went straight to him when we needed a fast bowler. We have a strong relationship, I have been doing private coaching for him from 10 years old and with his skill and character he really fits the bill. He has a lot of talent and he has excited the whole nation. I want opposition to be scared of playing us at the Wanderers because of our formidable bowling attack that can push the opposition back,” Gwavu told The Citizen.

While the Lions have lost a very talented batsman in Wihan Lubbe, who turned down their contract offer and is believed to be heading for the Warriors, they have signed another potential unpolished diamond in Wesley Marshall, who only played sporadically for the Titans.

The 26-year-old Marshall brings a tremendously aggressive approach to the top-order mixture of the Lions.

“In 50-over cricket, when we assessed the top-order we felt there was a lack of firepower, we tended to go in the same gear for the majority of the game. But Wesley can really take the bowlers down, he has loads of talent and a decent technique – he’s not just a hitter. He will bring something different,” Gwavu said.

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