Versatile spinner excites AD

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Gregory Mahlokwana PHOTO: GALLO

The Free State Cricket Union has announced their squad that will be competing in Division 1 of domestic cricket’s next season.

Domestic cricket will be moving away from the franchise system and revert back to a provincial system in which eight teams will be competing in the top-flight of the sport in South Africa.

The Free State, which over many years incorporated the Norther Cape to form first the Eagles and then the Knights, will be standing on their own.

They have managed to retain and contract the bulk of the Knights team as they head forward.

The most notable name absent from the Free State squad is that of the 34-year-old seasoned spinner, Shaun von Berg. Von Berg, who was the leading wicket-taker for the Knights last season, has not been offered a new deal and he has moved on to a really strong Boland team.

The decision to cut Von Berg was not an easy one for the union, but it was necessary in order for the Free State to field a predominantly seam-based attack.

Another player missing from the list is the batman, Andries Gous, who has decided to go and play cricket in the USA.

Previously it was reported that the former Proteas wicketkeeper, Mangaliso Mosehle, will be joining the Free State. Another new and exciting signing is that of the 26-year-old spinner, Gregory Mahlokwana.

While Mahlokwana is a fairly unknown player, he has previously represented Northerns and the Titans, as well as the Cape Town Blitz in the Mzansi Super League.

What makes his contracting exciting, is his rare gift, which is not unheard of in cricket, though, it is very unusual. Mahlokwana is predominantly a left-arm spinner, however, he has the ability to bowl and spin with his right-arm as well.

The Free State coach, Allan Donald, is certainly excited about the arrival of Mahlokwana, although he concedes that he is not too familiar with the player.

“Pat Botha is in there, Jacques Snyman is in there, Matthew Kleinveldt is in there and we’ve also got Gregory Mahlokwana. He is a left-arm spinner, but he can also bowl off-spin. So, he can switch from left-arm to right-arm which a sensational skill to be able to have. I haven’t seen the guy play, but I am very excited to meet him and see what he has to offer us.”

Other new names to the squad are that of Dilivio Ridgaard and Nealan van Heerden.

The Free State is set to begin with their preseason in May.

Free State squad – Mbulelo Budaza, Gerald Coetzee, Patrick Kruger, Wandile Makwetu, Migael Pretorius, Jacques Snyman, Pite van Biljon, Raynard van Tonder, Farhaan Behardien, Patrick Botha, Matthew Kleinveldt, Gregory Mahlokwana, Mangaliso Mosehle, Alfred Mothoa, Dilivio Ridgaard, Nealan van Heerden.  – MORGAN PIEK