Ageless Van der Wath still going strong
Johan van der Wath is preparing for his 17th first-class cricket season in 2012/13 and the veteran Chevrolet Knights all-rounder admits he is feeling as fit as ever for the year ahead.
The 34-year-old made his debut in the 1996/97 campaign and has gone on to take 376 wickets in 108 matches, while also notching up 3 364 runs in that period.
Last season, he claimed 34 wickets in seven matches as the Knights ended third and Van der Wath is hoping to build on that when they begin their four-day Sunfoil Series campaign against defending champions Nashua Titans next month.
“I’m fortunate that in the latter part of my career I’ve managed to stay this fit,” he told supersport.com. “I’ve lost a lot of weight in the last two or three years, so the joints have kept strong and the body is holding up well.
“When I was younger I don’t think we practiced enough compared to now and the new methods help the body a lot more.
“I’m looking forward to the four-day season, I’ve set myself some targets to keep me motivated and on my toes.”
Van der Wath, who also represented the Proteas in 10 one-day internationals and eight Twenty20s in 2006 and 2007, said his aim was to continue playing for the forseeable future.
“I don’t plan to play until they kick me out, I want to leave on my own terms,” he said. “I’ll play it by ear, I think.
“I still have another two-year contract with the Knights, but if I feel in that time that the body can’t keep up, then I’ll quit. But otherwise I’ll keep going.”
The Knights last won the four-day competition in 2007/08 when they were then known as the Eagles.
Van der Wath is confident they can end that drought this season,
saying: “We were close in all the competitions last season, probably one win away from challenging for the title even in the longer format.
“So we had a good season with nothing to show for it and we’re hoping that will change this year.
“I think it was a good learning experience and if anything, we’re in a better position this time around. We’ve got the same squad, the guys have a bit more experience and there’s a lot to look forward to.”
The Free Staters are currently in Potchefstroom preparing for a historic occasion next week when they will be involved in South Africa’s first ever day/night match under first-class conditions, although no official status will be granted to the game.
The North West Dragons will be their opponents with the new Kookaburra Turf Pink Balls utilised and black sightscreens also in place.
Van der Wath added: “I have some experience with the pink ball from my time in England. From my experience, we should expect it to scuff up a bit, just like the white ball.
“But overall, we’re looking forward to the challenge. The timing of the game 2.30 in the afternoon and ending at 9pm is going to be interesting. Hopefully it will all work out well.”