Van Wyk nearer NZ Test dream

2012-01-16 08:51
Kruger van Wyk (Gallo Images)
Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

Cape Town - Several years of patience are much closer to playing off for Kruger van Wyk, the South African-born wicketkeeper now selected for New Zealand’s Test squad ... and possibly in line to face the country of his birth shortly.

Van Wyk was named on Monday in a 12-strong Black Caps squad for the one-off Test against Zimbabwe in Napier from January 26.

The diminutive 31-year-old, born in Wolmaransstad, is familiar to Titans fans, after his strides for that franchise as a youngster in the early 2000s, before he emigrated to New Zealand and set his sights on qualifying for and then representing that country.

His industry in that regard has been rewarded with inclusion in the Test party under the captaincy of Ross Taylor - though ironically he will be in a straight shootout for the gloves with Durban-born BJ Watling, another 'keeper with good batting credentials.

Watling, 26, left for New Zealand much earlier in life and has played all of his first-class cricket in the Land of the Long White Cloud - he already boasts 17 caps for New Zealand across the three formats.

The SA-born pair are in the squad to face Zimbabwe after the axing of Auckland-born Reece Young, who played in the recent drawn mini-series in Australia (1-1) but did not make a good impression with the bat.

Van Wyk’s strides toward a Test cap will be monitored with interest by many South Africans, who remember his agility behind the stumps and quirky, positive style at the crease in the time when Mark Boucher was in his heyday and rather more comfortably shut out all pretenders to his ‘keeping crown than he does at present.

If he does crack the nod against Zimbabwe and fares well, Van Wyk would then be firmly in line to tackle the Proteas when they play a three-Test series in New Zealand in a few weeks’ time.

Both Van Wyk and Watling have been named in a New Zealand XI to play the Zimbabweans in a warm-up game at Gisborne - the latter will wear the gloves, at least initially, and Van Wyk will get a better batting opportunity as he will apparently open the innings.

Canterbury customer Van Wyk currently sports a tidy first-class batting average of 38.66.

Another South African-born gloveman, Craig Kieswetter, who represented SA U19, has accumulated 28 ODI and 14 Twenty20 international caps for England, since making his limited-overs debut for them in early 2010.

No 1-ranked England’s first choice Test ‘keeper is Matt Prior ... another South African who was born in Johannesburg.


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