Suits me fine:  Geoff Toyana says he is happy to be  Graeme Smith’s assistant in the T20 Global League. (Zalmi Coach) and Mohammad Akram (Director of Cricket) during the T20 Global League Benoni Franchise press conference at The Venue, Melrose Arch on August 21, 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images)Lee Warren/Gallo Images
Suits me fine: Geoff Toyana says he is happy to be Graeme Smith’s assistant in the T20 Global League. (Zalmi Coach) and Mohammad Akram (Director of Cricket) during the T20 Global League Benoni Franchise press conference at The Venue, Melrose Arch on August 21, 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images)Lee Warren/Gallo Images

Highveld Lions coach Geoffrey Toyana is unfazed by the furious criticism that has greeted his appointment as assistant to coaching greenhorn Graeme Smith at T20 Global League franchise Benoni Zalmi.

Incensed cricket lovers took to social media and voiced their unhappiness with Toyana for agreeing to serve under Smith when the former SA national team captain has never coached professionally before.

Toyana‚ on the other hand‚ is a celebrated coach and was even in the running for the national team coaching job a few weeks ago.

He has also won all the domestic cricket titles with the Highveld Lions as head coach.

He told Business Day on Wednesday the criticism did not bother him.

"I understand where people are coming from but this is an international tournament with international investors who wanted a big name like Graeme to become the coach of their franchise‚" he said.

"If I hadn’t accepted the job‚ it would have meant sitting at home for six weeks and doing nothing during the tournament.

"I am a coach and all I want is to be involved in doing what I love and this is a good opportunity for me.

"I don’t see this as a negative or someone trying to undermine me regardless of my coaching experience at the highest level.

"I wanted to be involved in this tournament and I am looking forward to working with Smith," Toyana said, adding that Smith had proved himself as a leader when captaining SA.

"Smith is a big name and he will definitely uplift the standard of the tournament from a coaching perspective.

"We need to understand that this is an international tournament and we all know that Graeme proved himself as an accomplished leader during his playing days."

Toyana said he had three offers from other franchises‚ including the Joburg Giants at Wanderers‚ but he chose Zalmi.

"All the three offers I received were of becoming an assistant coach and I chose Benoni because it is where it all started for me as a coach many years ago," he said.

"I have chatted with Graeme and we will continue to communicate‚ which is part of the early stages of planning.

"We met this week and we are meeting again on Friday in Cape Town for the players’ draft," Toyana said.

Mark Boucher is the only current South African franchise coach who will get to keep the same position in the T20 Global League.

Boucher will be assisted by Warriors coach Malibongwe Maketa in a Port Elizabeth-based team that is yet to be named.

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