Donald sees Knights role as a stepping stone

Allan Donald converses with Morne Morkel during a training session Associated Press

Allan Donald, South Africa's former bowling coach, will consider the possibility of a full-time role at the Bloemfontein-based Knights franchise following a temporary stint in charge early next year. Donald will take over between January 14 and February 14 for a period of six matches while interim coach Nicky Boje runs the Mumbai Marathon and plays in the Masters Champions League.

"I have long been wanting to do a team job," Donald told ESPNcricinfo. "I'd like to sit down with [Knights' CEO] Johann van Heerden and the management and see where things go. I'm sure a few other people will also put their name in the hat."

The Knights will be looking to make a permanent appointment after a season of instability, in which their long-time coach Sarel Cilliers left his post. Cilliers held onto his job after it seemed he may lose it at the start of last season when a vacancy was advertised. After Knights reached the final of the Ram Slam in 2014-15, Cilliers was reappointed on a short-term deal but has since decided to pursue other interests and Boje, who is from the Free State and played for Knights, put in place as a stop-gap.

So far, Boje has not found things easy. Midway through the one-day tournament, Knights lie at the bottom of the table and they also finished last in the Ram Slam during which Donald assisted Boje. "I enjoyed my time when I was around them during the Ram Slam. I was there for the second half of the tournament and it was a little difficult because the team was losing but I am from the Free State and I know the amount of talent and togetherness in the region. When you are losing, it's easy for that go away but they can get it back."

Much like Warriors, Knights do not boast a wealth of internationals and of the current crop on the South African radar, only Rilee Rossouw and Reeza Hendricks are on their books. In the last few seasons they have lost the experience of Morne van Wyk and Ryan McLaren to Dolphins and Dean Elgar to Titans. But the Knights franchise covers a large portion of central South Africa, including the Free State and the Northern Cape and Donald is convinced there is talent to unearth and nurture, especially in the long-form of the game.

"It will be good for me to see what the culture of Test cricket is like from inside the system and to see what the system is producing for the Test team," Donald said.

Despite Donald's interest in cultivating future Test stars, his time in charge will include just two first-class matches but after Knights' solid start - an innings win over the Cobras on the opening weekend - he is looking forward to those most. He will also be at the helm for four 50-over games, where he will have to drag Knights out of the doldrums. If he can, he may be in line to take over fully when an appointment is made.