Von Berg in; Mackie retires

Shaun von Berg (right) in a Proteas warm-up match against the Sri Lanka Board XI in Colombo 2018. PHOTO: LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI/ CRICINFO

The VKB Knights have received a massive boost ahead of the next season, with the news that seasoned leg-break spinner, Shaun von Berg, will be joining the franchise.

The Knights have long been looking for a wicket-taking spinner that can bat and the Titans man, Von Berg, meets the team’s requirements.

While the Knights have contracted numerous young players of late such as Gerald Coetzee, the Malan twins Marco and Duan, and the former SA U19 wicketkeeper, Wandile Makwetu, the 32-year-old Von Berg is by far the oldest new recruit in the setup.

Von Berg, who has 104 first-class games to his name, has played for either Northerns or the Titans for his entire career.

With 366 first-class wickets to his name, Von Berg is a proven strike bowler, while by the same token he can also be used as a stock bowler when the need arises.

He is more than handy in all forms of cricket, and recently also represented the Tshwane Spartans in the Mzansi Super League (MSL T20).

Von Berg told Bloemfontein Courant that joining the Knights is a big move for him, but it is one that he is looking forward to.

“It is a new chapter in my life. The Knights approached me a couple of months ago and told me that they are interested in getting me there.

“They were interested in getting in an older face with quite a bit of experience that can bat a bit down the order. So, it’s a big move and challenge for me. My wife is going to be staying in Pretoria, and I will be going back and forth between the two cities.

“A lot of memories, a lot of good games and a lot of trophies over the years, so it was a bittersweet day for me when I signed with the Knights. Obviously I am excited to go the Knights, but a big part of me will stay in Pretoria. I was born and bred in Pretoria. I’ve lived here my whole life and I’ve played for the Titans for the last ten years. I am a bit sad about leaving the boys on this side, but very excited to go to the Knights.

“It will be lekker, and I am looking forward to next season.”

After finishing as the third highest wicket-taker in the first-class competition in 2017-18, Von Berg was included in South Africa’s Test squad to tour Sri Lanka in July 2018.

Meanwhile, the Knights will be bidding farewell to the long-time servant of Free State cricket, Ryan McLaren. After 17 years of first-class cricket, the 36-year-old former Proteas all-rounder has called time on his career. He played his last ever game in Bloemfontein on Wednesday, and following their two remaining away matches against the Titans and Warriors, his career will be done.

The franchise also bid farewell to the wicketkeeper-batsman, Rudi Second, who is said to be joining the Warriors, and the spinner, Eddie Leie. At this stage it is uncertain where Leie will be heading, but there are suggestions that he will be returning to the Highveld Lions. – MORGAN PIEK