Knights coach Nicky Boje looks ahead to a challenging season without David Miller and former captain Theunis de Bruyn.
The former Proteas spinner’s side had a difficult season last year, finishing at the foot of both the T20 Challenge and One-Day Cup table.
The Free State-based side did, however, find it marginally easier in the four-day competition, finishing second from bottom. They will aim to improve across all facets of the game in the new season.
‘We still have a young team. Especially in the white-ball format. It’s been a learning curve,’ Boje told SA Cricket magazine.
‘We have mostly been on the wrong side of the line, but it was a good experience for the guys and we picked up a lot of lessons for the upcoming season.
‘We have a well-balanced side for the longer format. It makes a difference when you have two speedsters – Duanne Olivier and Marchant de Lange – who have been the spearhead of our bowling attack with good guys to back them up.
‘In the batting department we had so many guys contributing – Grant Mokoena, Luthando Mnyanda, Miller, Rudi Second, Pite van Biljon and then you have younger guys who can learn from these guys – for example, Patrick Kruger who scored his maiden first-class hundred,’ added Boje.
For any franchise coach at present, the major challenge is finding a way to compete against the free-flowing Titans, whose star-studded team ran away with two titles last season.
For the Knights, it doesn’t make it easier when you lose your experienced national players to the enemy. Boje lost his captain, De Bruyn, to the Titans, while Miller – who played six games in the four-day tournament, nine games in the One-Day Cup and 10 matches in the T20 challenge – will be moving back to the Dolphins. The loss of these two star performers will leave a definite dent to their teamsheet in the coming season.
’It’s disappointing to lose your international players because they brought a lot of experience to the team, but it will give other youngsters a time to perform,’ said Boje.
‘But it’s time for guys like Pite to have a chance to step up, as well as youngsters like Andries Gous and Raynard van Tonder, who will have the chance to prove themselves. We brought in Ryan McLaren who will bring experience now that guys like De Bruyn are gone.’
Boje remains positive, however, as he knows what is required for the Knights to enjoy a successful 2018-19 campaign.
‘The key factor is getting these youngsters to believe in themselves, but we also have to build a good culture in the setup and make sure that everyone moves in the right direction,’ he concluded.
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