Chevrolet Knights coach Sarel Cilliers has already had a season unlike any other. Every time his side has settled on a new captain, someone has thrown a spanner in the works, and he will have to find a new leader for this week’s Sunfoil Series clash against the Chevrolet Warriors.
“This season has definitely been a challenge,”Cilliers said with a weary smile.
“But it’s taught us how to handle these kinds of situations if they ever come up again. Initially we thought we would lose Morne van Wyk for only a couple of weeks, but he has only just had surgery, which means he will still be out for a few more weeks. Ryan McLaren and Dean Elgar both took over the reins, but then they both got call-ups to the national team.
“Reeza Hendricks is still in a cast, and Quinton Friend is also still sidelined. And now, of course, Johann van der Wath has been suspended for a week, so we will be handing another debut on Thursday,” he added.
With McLaren and Elgar on national duty, the Chevrolet Knights’ resources have been stretched to the limit, but the coach has been impressed by those who have stepped up.
“Rudi Second making a double hundred was great for us, and the other guys have also come into the team and shown a lot of character. It bodes well for the future,” he pointed out.
“We have the Warriors coming up this week, and they have obviously been on a bit of run. We will expect nothing less than another tough battle from them, considering that they have been one of the form franchises in our cricket for a few years now.”
One person who still expects the depleted Chevrolet Knights to come out fighting on Thursday is Chevrolet Warriors’ captain Davy Jacobs, himself a former Central Franchise player.
“They have had a tough time of it this season, but I know for sure that they will come out fighting. I spent three years over there, and know what they are made of, and there is no such thing as an easy game in franchise cricket,” Jacobs warned.
The Chevrolet Warriors have put a disappointing Momentum one-day Cup campaign behind them, and currently lie in second place on the Sunfoil Series table. Jacobs says they just have to keep winning to stay in touch with the charging bizhub Highveld Lions and the leading Nashua Mobile Cape Cobras.
“You never know what can happen in these last few games of the season. We just have to keep winning, starting against the Knights. We then go to the Dolphins, where you never know what the weather will be like, before we finish off the season with the Lions. So things could be very interesting by that last game.”
Jacobs said his charges had also been boosted by the stunning introduction to franchise cricket of Ayabulela Gqamane, who has taken 20 wickets in his first three matches.
“He just loves to bowl and bat. He always has a smile on his face, and that kind of energy rubs off on the rest of the team for sure. We obviously had a terrible one-day stint, but we have put that to one side, and really come back strongly in the four-day competition,” Jacobs pointed out.
“Over the winter, we prioritised the four-day side of things, because we haven’t been good enough over the last few seasons. I think this is already our highest ever points tally in the competition, so I am really proud of how the guys have reacted.”
Play at Chevrolet Park starts at 10am on Thursday.