Sport

CHANGING OF THE GUARD

Big moves shake up domestic cricket ahead of hotly anticipated season

Big moves shake up domestic cricket ahead of hotly anticipated season
Keegan Petersen of South Africa during day 2 of the 1st Betway Test match between South Africa and West Indies at SuperSport Park on 1 March, 2023 in Centurion, South Africa. (Photo: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images)

Proteas batters Keegan Petersen and Zubayr Hamza are among a host of players who have found a new domestic home.

The outfields and cricket squares around South Africa will see little action until around August this year however, in the meantime, there has been lots of action off the field as all the domestic cricket teams have assembled their squads for the upcoming season.

Perhaps the biggest move is that of Proteas middle-order batter Keegan Petersen who has swapped the Dolphins of Durban — where he was first recognised for higher honours — for his hometown of Paarl at the Rocks — where he made his first-class debut.

Petersen’s highest first-class score, an unbeaten 225, was scored playing for his beloved Boland side.

“I can’t tell you how glad I am to be home. All those years ago, when I had to leave, there was a bitter-sweet feeling because you never want to leave home,” Petersen said.

“So, to come back here, and do what I love, is great.

“It wasn’t an easy decision. I was in a good place at the Dolphins. They gave me all the opportunities. It was a successful side, we won two trophies there. But I made the decision for my family and what’s best for them.”

The Dolphins won the Four-Day Series on the final day of the season in March this year.

“A sense of belonging is the biggest part of this decision,” added Petersen about moving back to Boland. “It’s why we made it. It’s home. It’s a place I know. A field I know, and a wicket that has been very successful to me, so to come back here is a big plus for me.

“There are lots of contributing factors, but at the end of the day, it’s always been a dream of mine to be part of a successful Boland, now Rocks, team. Hopefully, we can win trophies because this community has always been very invested in the team.”

Fast bowler Glenton Stuurman — who played a solitary Test match for South Africa against New Zealand in February last year — joins Petersen at the Rocks next season, having played for the Warriors in Gqeberha for the past few seasons.

Zubayr Hamza, cricket

Zubayr Hamza of South Africa bats during day three of the First Test match in the series between New Zealand and South Africa at Hagley Oval on 19 February, 2022 in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Photo: Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

WP trio join Lions

Zubayr Hamza is another Protea batter who has looked for greener pastures elsewhere next season. But unlike Petersen, Hamza leaves his home ground in his quest. 

Hamza – who made his Proteas Test debut in 2019 – will leave Western Province and join the Lions at the Wanderers.

The stylish middle-order batter represented South Africa in six Test matches and a One-Day International between 2019 and 2022 before he was banned from all cricket for nine months after furosemide, which is prescribed for treating high blood pressure, was detected in his system.

“Zubayr will add great value to our environment,” said Lions CEO Jono Leaf-Wright. “He is obviously a highly-skilled batter, but he will also add value in terms of the calmness and leadership he will provide in our unit.

“Look, mistakes happen and as long as people learn from them, then I’m fine and feel they deserve another chance. Zubayr fits that.”

“From everyone I’ve talked to, they all say he is a good guy and I think he will fit in nicely here into the environment and culture we are creating at the Lions.”

Hamza will be joined by his Western Province teammates, fast-bowler Tsepho Moreki and leg-break bowler Junaid Dawood at the highveld, next season.

Gerald Coetzee, cricket

Gerald Coetzee of South Africa during day 4 of the 2nd Betway Test match between South Africa and West Indies at DP World Wanderers Stadium on 11March, 2023 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images)

Knights exodus

After two dismal cricket seasons in the Free State by the Knights, they were relegated from Division One to Division Two for next season.

Subsequently, a host of their players have left the franchise in order to continue playing in the premier competitions in the country.

One such player is Gerald Coetzee. The aggressive fast bowler, who made his Test debut under new red-ball coach Shukri Conrad against West Indies earlier this year, has elected to go up country to Pretoria where he will play for the Titans.

The Knights’ leading run scorer in the Four-Day Series last season, Matthew Kleinveldt – who struck 357 runs at an average of nearly 60 – will join Coetzee at the Titans next season.

The Free State side have also lost the services of former skipper and Proteas T20 batter Pite van Biljon who has joined the newly promoted Tuskers side.

Other departures at the Knights include, allrounder Patrick Kruger and unorthodox quick Alfred Mothoa, who have both joined the Warriors.

While young starlet Raynard van Tonder has joined the North West Dragons — who pipped the Knights from the bottom spot of Division One to remain in the top league for another season. DM

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