A single-minded focus on the process rather than the end result propelled the Madibaz cricket team to the Eastern Province premier league title last month.
Victory in 14 of their 18 matches saw the Nelson Mandela University outfit bury the memories of a frustrating post-Covid period and rekindling their form of the recent past.
Sipho Sibande, Madibaz Sport’s cricket manager, recalled how they had been on course to take the title in the 2019/20 season before outdoor activities were abruptly stopped.
After a delayed return, the team struggled to find their feet and the result was a sub-par season in 2021/22.
“Hence it was very important to bounce back strongly and we did just that. It was a massive effort from coach Lefa Mosena and the players.”
Mosena literally adopted the ostrich’s head-in-the-sand approach, opting to move the focus away from results and therefore successfully removing much of the stress from the equation.
“We are always expected to win and my job is to take away that pressure and to make them focus on the processes, which we managed.”
Witnessing the growth of the squad was particularly satisfying for the mentor and this allowed him to rotate players throughout the season.
The importance of winning on the road was another element that had him beating his chest in satisfaction.
“The key moments were making sure that we won all our away fixtures as they can be tricky,” said Mosena. “Pitch conditions in those games can be a real test and this season the guys have really adapted well.”
The fact that they were able to perform at a high intensity throughout played a major role in their league success, according to the coach.
As is the case in any team sport, the Madibaz’s path to the title was only possible because they were firing on all cylinders. However, there were a number of players who performed crucial roles in various departments.
Ethan Frosler, with his pace upfront, along with Dylan Moorhouse, whose accuracy kept things under control, made for a balanced bowling attack that proved lethal more often than not.
They were backed up by Elih Thorne, Sihle Mginywa and Akhona Maswana, all of whom chipped in with wickets when the ball was thrown their way.
In the batting department, captain Christopher Gleaves played consistently well to put the Gqeberha side in strong positions.
Brett Amsterdam and Mihle Dingiswayo matured as the season progressed, with each producing match-winning performances when it counted.
Sibande acknowledged that winning the premier league had been an important building block in their long-term strategy.
“That was a non-negotiable,” he said, adding that the feat greatly assisted them in preparing for the upcoming tournaments.
Their next assignments will be the Varsity Sport T20 (TBC) and University Sports South Africa tournaments later in the year.
Given some challenges, including having to honour fixtures during exam periods, Sibande said they were proud of ending the season back on top.
“It means a lot to the players and technical staff. The club cricket programme requires meticulous planning as we often need to play catch-up fixtures, sometimes on a Saturday and Sunday.
“So it took a combined effort from our players, coaches and ground staff to achieve our target.”