With one door closing, another opens for Knights

The Knights opening batter Matthew Kleinveldt scored a career-best 199* against the Rocks in Paarl. PHOTO: MORGAN PIEK

The ITEC Knights signed off their 2022/23 season on a high with a solid 9-wicket win over the Rocks in Paarl during the final round of the CSA 4-Day series recently.

The win meant that the Bloemfontein-based Knights earned back-to-back wins in the competition after beating the Warriors by 161-runs at St George’s Park in Gqeberha in their previous match.

The consecutive wins are somewhat bittersweet, as it was too little, too late to prevent the team from being relegated to Division 2 of domestic cricket in South Africa. While this is certainly a bitter pill to swallow, in a sense it is somewhat of a blessing in disguise.

Relegation will mean that the Knights will have to rebuild their team as a lot of the players will be unaffordable on a budget that will be cut drastically.

The player budget is much lower in Division 2 and clever contracting is needed to ensure a competitive squad is contracted.

The contracting and negotiations for players have only just begun, but a former Free State player could be making his way back to his hometown to continue his cricket career.
In Division 1, teams are allowed to contract 16 players, while in Division 2 that is drastically dropped to only 10 players. This means the Knights will have to rely heavily on club cricket in the city and region to make a big step up to feed the provincial team.
The University of the Free State and the Central University of Technology will be the main feeders for this.

This will certainly put pressure on these institutions’ cricket programmes, but it is a fine opportunity for these younger players to aspire to something bigger.

With one door closing, another opens and the Knights could just perhaps take a leaf out of the Cheetahs’ book. – MORGAN PIEK