Werner Coetsee, the veteran Knights spinner and former captain, has retired from playing and will take up a coaching role.
It is a major shift in direction for a man who has given almost 15 years’ service to the game at senior level. He made his first-class debut in 2003, for North West, when he was rather roughly treated by the Gauteng batsmen. Since then, he has gone on to take 535 wickets at an economy rate of 2.9 with his off-spin, while scoring 6,625 runs at an average of 33.5, playing also for Northern Cape, the Lions and the Knights, and club cricket in England.
In a ceremony on Sunday to mark his dedicated service, CEO Johann van Heerden announced that the 35-year-old Coetsee would now be an assistant coach to the Free State senior provincial team.
‘It is sad that Werner will not be playing cricket anymore. But he has become a valuable member of the Central Franchise family and we were not prepared to lose him. I believe those young cricketers stand to learn a lot from him.’
Coetsee is well known for his off-spin abilities, a strong batting character as well as his charismatic leadership.
He also boasts the remarkable feat of bowling a five-wicket maiden over in a club match in the Netherlands in 2016.
The Hague Cricket Club, playing The HBS Cricket Club in a T20, were facing defeat when, on 133-5, they needed just five runs off the final over.
Coetsee stepped up to take a hat-trick, followed by a dot ball and then a brace of wickets to win the match with figures of 5-6.
‘It was a really great feeling to experience something like that after all the years of playing, especially with it being something I’ve never done or seen before,’ he said at the time.
On Sunday, in acknowledgement, Coetsee said: ‘I played cricket for quite a long time and it is humbling to see an arrangement of this nature in my name.
‘I am going to miss playing but for now, I am excited about my new adventure as assistant coach of Free State Cricket.’