The Knights will be without two key middle-order batsmen when they take on the Highveld Lions in the battle of the early-season form teams in the Sunfoil Series on Thursday in Potchefstroom.
Rilee Rossouw will sit out the game at Senwes Park after becoming a father for the first time on Tuesday, while Pite van Biljon is facing a spell on the sidelines after going over on his ankle and suffering a grade two tear during the Knights’ victory last weekend.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Tumelo Bodibe, seamer Dillon du Preez and all-rounders, Obus Pienaar and Patrick Botha, will all travel with the squad and compete for the two places, and captain Werner Coetsee is confident in their abilities to step in.
“They all played games last weekend and Pienaar got 80-odd not out, Bodibe got 90, Pat Botha got 150 and Dillon bowled well, so we’re happy to bring in any one of those guys,” he said.
The Knights set a noteworthy record against the Warriors in their season opener, when they recovered from 32 for eight on the opening morning to win the match. It was the lowest total at the eighth wicket for a winning team in South African first-class cricket. The Lions enjoyed a rather more straightforward win over the Titans, which suggested that they may be turning a corner after a forgettable season last term.
“I think sometimes acknowledging that you’ve messed up and acknowledging your faults is half the battle,” Lions skipper Stephen Cook said of the conversations the Lions had during the off-season. There were times last season where guys were maybe blind to their errors and kept making the same mistakes. In taking it on the chin and owning up to where we went wrong, that was half the battle.”
Neil McKenzie remains unavailable to the Lions due to his Champions League T20 commitments, and Cook is not expecting major changes for Thursday. “We won’t depart very far from our winning team – I think we’ll stick pretty close to it. We’re just waiting on one final selection call.”