Watson signs on with KZN Inland

2008-07-23 00:00

IN a huge boost for KZN Inland’s senior cricket team, long-serving Dolphins opening batsman Doug Watson (35) has signed as player/coach for the next two seasons, despite being offered a six-month contract with the Gauteng Lions franchise.

Watson, who this season broke Vince van der Bijl’s record of first-class appearances for the province, is delighted with the prospect of his new job.

“I will bring hard work, discipline and a good vibe with me, and there is no reason why KZN Inland can’t be a force at this level,” Watson told The Witness yesterday.

“KZN Inland is a feeder to the Dolphins franchise, and success at this level of first-class cricket gives players the opportunity to get noticed,” he said.

“This is an exciting new challenge for me and I see one aspect of my role as helping ambitious cricketers to stake a claim for a Dolphins place.

“When I started with Natal B, we had Pat Symcox and youngsters like Lance Klusener and Derek Crookes coming through, who all went on to represent province and country, and this is the way it should continue,” Watson said.

KZN Inland Cricket Union president Yunus Bhamjee said the executive were confident that Watson would add value as a coach and player.

“Speaking to the other stakeholders, the schools and so on, Doug’s appointment has been well received,” Bhamjee said.

“Doug has the pedigree to attract and retain talent and we are delighted to have him on board.”

The Pietermaritzburg-born Watson has close ties with the KZN capital and a ready-made insight into the cricket system here.

Despite the contractual uncertainties that didn’t make the final days of his 15-year tenure at the Dolphins all that memorable, Watson has plenty of cricket left in him, and as much as his off-field role is important, the huge experience born of 130 first-class matches and 139 limited-overs appearances will be even more important on the field.

And it is here that Watson will come into his own, be it as the Inland opener, directing traffic from slip, advising bowlers and batsmen or teaching the best midlands youngsters the finer points of tactical appreciation.

As former Dolphins and SA coach Graham Ford told The Witness earlier this year, “You can have as many net practices as you like, it’s out in the middle that you really learn what the game is about.”

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