Cricket World Cup 2011
Van Wyk set for key role?
Morne van Wyk (file)
Neil Manthorp - SuperSport
Johannesburg - Morne van Wyk could be forgiven for
thinking the last three months of his life had been scripted by an
over-romantic fiction writer.
One of the domestic games most senior,
respected and admired professionals, his days of international cricket seemed
over when he wasn’t even mentioned in his home town of Bloemfontein as a
possible Cricket World Cup contender at the beginning of the season. Ageism prevails in
South Africa like in no other country and, at just 30, van Wyk was written off
as ‘too old.’
Even when he featured strongly in the MTN40
domestic competition he was taken for granted by the cricket community. He’s
been scoring runs heavily for the Free State Eagles and Knights for over a
decade - it was expected.
A series of twists and turns in selectorial
thinking, however, suddenly threw his name into the mix. A reserve wicket
keeper, it was reasoned, might be more important for South Africa than for
other teams given that AB de Villiers has had back trouble for over a year now.
So why take a ‘passenger’ who really would only be a reserve.
The innings which turned everything on its
head came at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in the T20 match against India when van
Wyk was given the chance to open the batting in place of skipper Graeme Smith
who was a late withdrawal with a thumb injury. He smashed 67 off 39 balls and
that, effectively, was that. He was going to the World Cup - not only as a
reserve ‘keeper, but as a potential opener, combative middle order batsman or
even lower order ‘shepherd’ for the tail. The only thing he couldn’t do was
He has sparkled twice with the bat so far
during the qualifying rounds but it is his fearlessness that may be the team’s
greatest asset during the quarter final and possible semi and final. Sometimes,
it is only when you have given up on your dreams that you are able to make them
come true. Whereas others with long careers still ahead of them may tend
towards caution in moments of tension or pressure in the coming games, van Wyk
is unlikely to be inhibited.
Besides, the force of his personality and
the infectiousness of his confidence make him a hard man to leave out.
“It’s been shadow-boxing so far, just
sparring,” he said after training at the Shere Bangla Stadium in Dhaka on
Tuesday. “Everyone has been moving around the ring getting to know each other.
Now it’s time to land some hard punches. It’s time for the knockouts.”
Van Wyk was as much involved in the ground
fielding and high-catching practise sessions as he was batting. AB de Villiers
was clearly back to full fitness. Anything can happen in the two days before
the quarter-final against New Zealand, of course, but for now it’s hard to
avoid the conclusion that coach Corrie van Zyl and captain Smith are inclined
to select the Free State stumper in the XI whether he keeps wicket or not.