Bloemfontein - The Knights have given their Ram Slam T20 campaign a huge boost with the announcement of new squad additions.
The franchise on Wednesday announced that West Indies star, Andre Russell, will join them for a second season as well as a loan deal with the Titans to recruit Theunis de Bruyn for the duration of the competition.
In addition, they have given their management team a world-class boost with the signing of Free State ‘old boy’ Allan Donald as a consultant. They have also recruited Alan Kruger from the Northern Cape Academy to their coaching team.
The competition starts with double-headers at Newlands in Cape Town on Sunday, November 1
The Knights face the Warriors, while the Cape Cobras will square off against the Highveld Lions.
In addition, the Titans will tackle the Dolphins at SuperSport Park in Centurion.
The loan deal launched by Cricket South Africa (CSA) enables franchises to loan players out either for an entire season or a specific competition in the best interests both of the franchises and players concerned.
In this case De Bruyn will be loaned for the T20 Challenge only.
Knights CEO, Johan van Heerden, expressed his appreciation to his Titans counterpart, Jacques Faul, for making the loan deal possible.
“We appreciate their commitment to build not only on a regional level but strengthening the game of cricket on a national level. There is no doubt that these top-class signings will entertain our supporters over the next six weeks.”
Knights head coach, Nicky Boje, commented: “I am delighted to announce that our franchise has recruited some of the world’s best.”
Van Heerden added: “The announcement of Allan Donald as consultant to the Knights team, proudly from the Free State himself, will surely raise the standard and profile of our franchise and there is no doubt that through his expertise it will be the competition to follow at the Mangaung and Diamond Ovals this season.”
All-rounder Russell will again bring a Caribbean flavour to the franchise. He will join the Knights for his first T20 match at the Mangaung Oval on November 15.
The West Indian cricketer took the T20 competition by storm last season to secure the Knights a place in the finals and equalled the record for the fastest fifty in South African domestic T20 history.
De Bruyn will be another star playing attraction. At the start of this year he became the third quickest South African batsman to reach 1 000 first-class runs, doing so in 20 innings. He represented the South African ‘A’ team against the England Lions and then on the tour to India in August.
Few batsmen have enjoyed such a successful first full season in franchise cricket as De Bruyn, who scored 543 runs at an average of 60, to help the Titans win the One-Day Cup and also made 615 Sunfoil Series runs at an average of 38.43.
Donald, known affectionately as 'White Lightning' during his international playing career with the Proteas, is remembered as a fearsome fast bowler and as one of the all-time greats of the game.
He was the first South African to take 300 Test wicket (330 Test wickets at an average of 22.25), and also claimed 272 One-Day International wickets at an average of 21.78.
Since retiring as a player, he has had a distinguished coaching career with, among others, the national teams of England, New Zealand and South Africa.
“I am humbled to be asked to assist with the Knights franchise,” commented Donald. “My last involvement with the franchise was in 2005 with Corrie van Zyl, as bowling coach, and it is an absolute privileged to be back. I am certain that we will build a confident team proudly representing the Knights badge.”
Alongside Boje and Donald, Kruger will assist in the training camp. Kruger is currently working with the Northern Cape Cricket Academy and his involvement will greatly assist not only his personal development but also that of the central region.