The Knights will have to successfully navigate the exit of two key batsmen in an attempt to reclaim the title won at the end of the 2016-17 season. They have steely former Test spinner and head coach Nicky Boje at the helm – and a wealth of burgeoning talent through the ranks.
The Knights didn’t manage a single win but still finished higher than the Dolphins and Knights, who recorded a victory each, in the six-team standings. Nine draws and one defeat saw the Bloemfontein-based franchise occupy fourth position. Wicketkeeper-batsman Rudi Second was their highest run-scorer, with 803 in 14 innings, and fast bowler Marchant de Lange’s 20 in seven matches was the franchise’s highest wicket tally.
Seamers Duanne Olivier and De Lange will return from relatively successful South African winter stints with Derbyshire and Glamorgan, respectively. The latter will continue to push for Test selection, while the latter is unavailable to the Proteas after signing a Kolpak contract.
Proteas batsman Theunis de Bruyn has vacated the Knights captaincy to return to the Titans. Ironically (or perhaps appropriately?), De Bruyn’s final first-class match for the Knights was against the Titans. Limited-overs batsman David Miller has gone back to the Dolphins.
One to watch
All-rounder Patrick Kruger continues to impress. He has come a long way since humble beginnings as Burma Lads Cricket Club’s National Club Championship Player of the Tournament. A superb string of performances for Free State in the recent Africa T20 Cup reminded all and sundry of his talent with the bat, in particular.
De Bruyn and Miller’s departures will certainly hamper. The latter wasn’t going to be available in four-day cricket, regardless. The Knights, though, will have the characteristic resolve to perhaps repeat 2016-17’s title-winning campaign.