The VKB Knights won silverware for the first time in six years over the weekend by dominating the Highveld Lions by an innings and 121 runs to claim the Sunfoil Series title.
The match at the Wanderers in Johannesburg was a pressure match for not just the Knights but for the host as well, with either side standing a chance of winning the title.
Just down the road the game between the then defending champions, the Titans, and the Warriors, was keenly watched with the Titans standing a chance of reigning supreme as well.
The Knights scored 433 runs in their first innings, thanks to a solid 119 by Pite van Biljon while the captain, Theunis de Bruyn, contributed with 72. Diego Rossier (60), Luthando Mnyanda (46) and the wicketkeeper Rudi Second (45), all played their part with the willow to set the huge first innings score.
Marchant de Lange (17/3), Duanne Oliver (19/2), Shadley van Schalkwyk (24/2) and Mbulelo Budaza (16/2) all got stuck into the Lions batsman as the hosts were skittled for just 87 runs and the follow-on was enforced.
The Lions showed a lot more fight in their second innings with the former Knights-man, Reeza Hendricks, scoring 112 runs, but only captain Stephen Cook’s 42 troubled the scorers somewhat as they were dismissed for 235 on Saturday.
Although the Titans ended up beating Warriors at Willowmoore Park, it wasn’t good enough to beat the Knights, who ended on 112.94 points, just 1.78 clear of the Titans on 111.16.
Pite van Biljon was named as the Man of the Match for his 12th first class century. Van Biljon told Voice that his maiden ton against the Cape Cobras will always be special, the one over the weekend will probably rate as his best.
“Definitely, because this was like a final,” said the batsman. “The wicket was really difficult to bat on so I had to dig in, especially at the start of my innings.
“Obviously my first century against the Cobras at Newlands will always stay with me, but this ton at the Wanderers in those conditions will probably get the top spot.”
The focus shifts to 50-over cricket now with the Momentum One-Day Cup starting over the weekend.
Limited overs cricket has been a bit of a thorn in the side for the Knights, apart from making the final of the domestic T20 tournament a few years ago. But Van Biljon, who regularly captain the Knights, said the win will be good for their confidence.
“Yes, it has, but finally getting some silverware might help us believe that we are a top team and there is no reason we can’t compete for another trophy. We will take it one game at a time and stick to our plans. We have a lot of guys doing very well at provincial level, so our depth is looking good. On paper and on form we should be one of the teams to watch.”
Meanwhile, Olivier who recently became a Protea during the third and final Test against Sri Lanka, took 52 wickets in the competition. The player shied away from this milestone and opted to laud his team for the outstanding campaign.
“Yes, so far it’s been a successful year, but it was a great team effort all-around from everyone.
“I’m really very happy and just glad that I could contribute towards the team effort.”
The win by the Knights means that three of the top domestic sport titles are in the City of Roses after the Toyota Free State Cheetahs won the Currie Cup last year, and 2016 also saw the Free State Crinums winning the Brutal Fruit Netball Premier League for a third year in a row. – MORGAN PIEK