Crusaders Cricket Club move on from Clift, Dixon absence

Michael AlexanderAlexander succeeded Clift as Crusaders captain.

Crusaders Cricket Club coach Duncan Miller has acknowledged the absence of veteran duo Rob Clift and Sean Dixon was restrictive initially, but the squad for the 2016 National Club Championship is brimming with depth and talent regardless.

Clift and Dixon were key to the Crusaders’ fifth consecutive KwaZulu-Natal Cricket Union premier league – and maiden National Club Championship title in 2015. Neither, though, will play in the tournament this year.

“We have an exciting group of players coming to the tournament this year. Losing Rob and Sean was a big blow, but this has opened up opportunities for younger guys to put up their hands and take on those roles,” said Miller.

The talented Michael Alexander succeeded Clift as captain last year – and was the leading scorer in the 2015-16 KZNCU premier league on the back of 588 runs, including a century and three half-tons.

The presence of Dolphins all-rounder Cameron Delport – whose cosmopolitan career has featured stints with the Lahore Qalandars in the Pakistan Super League, Sydney Thunder in Australia’s Big Bash League and the Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel in the Caribbean Premier League – is also very important to the Crusaders’ collective ambition.

“Our new captain, Michael, is one of those guys who put up their hands. He has been groomed for the role for a while and he has taken to it well and we are looking forward to seeing him lead the guys in this exciting competition,” added Miller.

Cameron has a wealth of experience which he brings to the table. He is one of those guys who can play any role in the side and has the ability to take the game away from a team and dig us out of trouble, if we get into it.”

The first community club to win the competition in more than a decade, the Crusaders have been grouped with the University of Stellenbosch Cricket Club, Central University of Technology Cricket Club, North West University Cricket Club, Union Stars Cricket Club and Cape Town Cricket Club in section two this year.

Old Selbornians Cricket Club, Burma Lads Cricket Club, Kempton Park Cricket Club, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University Cricket Club, University of Johannesburg Cricket Club and University of Pretoria Cricket Club complete section one.

“The nice thing about a tournament like this is that it gives an opportunity for teams to go up against the best teams in the country, and if it happens that those include university clubs, then so be it,” concluded Miller.

“I think one of the reasons we were successful last year was that we still have a very traditional, old-school club cricket environment. The guys are very close. We are not just a squad that’s been put together, we are all genuinely here for the love of the game – and we are all committed to the team and making it a success.”

The 2016 National Club Championship will be played in Pretoria, from 21 to 27 April.