AD to take charge of the Knights

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The Proteas and Free State cricketing great, Allan Donald, has been acting as a consultant at the VKB Knights this season, and as from May he will be the team's new head coach. PHOTO: JOHAN PRETORIUS

One of the finest fast bowlers the world has ever seen, Allan Donald, will be making a return to Bloemfontein later this year, and this time he will be doing so as the new Head Coach of the VKB Knights.

Of late, Donald has not been a stranger to Bloemfontein and the Knights, as he has been acting as a consultant for the Central cricket franchise.

The Proteas and Free State Cricketing great has been appointed as the full-time coach of the team and he will be taking over the reins from Alan Kruger as from May 2020.

Just last year Donald was recognised for his contribution to the sport as a player when he was named in the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Hall of Fame. He was named as an inductee in the same batch of players as the Indian cricket legend, Sachin Tendulkar.

Donald was previously an assistant coach to the Proteas, New Zealand, Australia and Sri Lanka at international level, while in the County Championship (England), he coached his long-time playing team Warwickshire and Kent. He also enjoyed stints at Mountaineers (Zimbabwe), and at the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League (IPL).

He also served as an assistant coach to Nicky Bojé at the Knights a few seasons ago.

Speaking to Bloemfontein Courant, Donald said that he is excited to take over at the Knights and fill a role which he views as very important.

“I am super stoked be back here next season and starting a very important job. It’s not that I come into it blindly. Bloem is obviously where I grew up, and played my cricket with very influential people and have had great success in the past playing at the organisation.
“I am very happy to be given the opportunity as a head coach to try and turn things around.”

When it comes to the players at his disposal, Donald is more than happy with the current talent in the squad. These include the current captain, Pite van Biljon, who is in the Proteas camp for the T20 International series against Australia. Keegan Petersen, who was in the South African squad for the Tests series against England, and the young seamer, Gerald Coetzee, who played in the recent U19 Cricket World Cup.

“We are very lucky that we have a serious bunch of guys currently, and they are being talked about and the selectors are interested in what they are doing,” said the man who was known as White Lighting in his playing days.

“I think from a talent base it is a good platform to work from. Not only that, the Free State side looks like a good outfit as well.”

Donald also highlighted the importance of strengthening the coaching structures within Free State and Northern Cape cricket in order to make the franchise a force to be reckoned with.

“The biggest thing for me is that the three entities within the province and Northern Cape need to work very closely together, making sure that we are as one coaching team spreading the message consistently down the chain.

“It is something that I felt hasn’t been done successfully before, so from that perspective there is a lot of work lying ahead.”

At this stage, there is still uncertainty over Cricket South Africa’s plans for domestic cricket, but a restructure will not be taking place as they had previously planned. This will allow the franchises to offer contracts for players and coaches for a period of more than a year. This could see Donald being offered the head coach past the 2020-21 season. – MORGAN PIEK