Bloemfontein – The Chevrolet Knights and Bloemfontein bid farewell to three of their big guns on Sunday afternoon as the domestic cricket season drew to a thrilling conclusion. A spirited Knights team ensured they gave three of their long-time stalwarts a decent send-off after drawing to a determined Dolphins outfit in die Sunfoil Series to claim the second spot in the competition.
Proteas top-order batman Dean Elgar and former South Africa all-rounder Johan van der Wath walked off Chevrolet Park for the last time as Knights players after a long, yet entertaining day in the field. 36-year-old Van der Wath will hang up his bat after a stellar 17-year career at the Central South African franchise after his contract was not renewed.
Elgar in his turn has taken up a contract with the Titans in Pretoria to pursue his dream of becoming a regular in the Proteas XI.
Another Proteas player, Ryan McLaren, was with his team mates in the change room, although he did not play against the Dolphins.
The all-rounder will be reuniting with another long-time Free State servant and captain Morné van Wyk at the Dolphins. Van Wyk, who played with these three cricketers on Chevrolet Park for many years told Courant at the conclusion of Sunday’s match that it was an honour playing with all three and they will without a doubt leave a big void in the side.
An emotional McLaren was on the brink of tears when told us about his last moments at the team.
"It was emotional saying goodbye to these guys; we all said our goodbyes and everything. I thought I would be okay, but driving in here was a bit tough knowing it would be the last time you see the change room and the guys. I’m very grateful for the time I had here, there’s a lot of memories with coaches and team members. I’ve come through the ranks here since under-11, so there’s a lot of people to be grateful for," said McLaren.
A more upbeat 26-year-old Elgar also admitted it was hard walking off the field unbeaten on 33 when the game was called a draw, however, said it’s not the last Bloemfontein would have seen of him.
"It’s a bit of an emotional time for me, but it’s definitely not my last game in Bloem, I can tell you that. I know there will be many occasions that I will play against the Knights, and who knows, I might still play for the Knights on this field," said Elgar.
Van der Wath in his turn said that this was his last match as professional cricketer, although he also said he feels he still has a year or two left in the tank.