Zimbabwe in New Zealand 2011-12 January 23, 2012

From SA to NZ: Kruger van Wyk chases Test dream

If Kruger van Wyk makes the XI for New Zealand in the Napier Test, it will complete a journey that started in Centurion and ended at Central Districts as he traversed continents to make his international debut
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Six years ago, Kruger van Wyk was one of the frontrunners in the succession race for South Africa's wicket-keeping gloves. On Thursday, he may make his Test debut for New Zealand and will probably not have the gloves on when he does.

van Wyk has been included in New Zealand's squad to play Zimbabwe and will likely play as an opening batsman. If he does, it will complete a journey that started in Centurion and ended at Central Districts as van Wyk traversed continents to make his international debut.

"I am really pleased to have been included in the squad," van Wyk told ESPNcricinfo. "It's something I've worked for so hard and sacrificed so much just to get a foot in the door." His forfeitures have included leaving his home country, moving states in a foreign one and hovering on the fringes of a national side for almost four seasons before finally getting a look in. Unlike the more glamorous South African exports, like Kevin Pietersen and Jonathan Trott, van Wyk did not muscle his way into his adoptive side but quietly ground away.

Like Grant Elliott, another South African who played for New Zealand, he will make a quiet entrance into international cricket without much needle for his former country, which he could end up playing against later this year. He has not made outlandish statements about leaving South Africa but explained that professionally it was the best route for him.

Mark Boucher's monopoly over the wicket-keeping position meant that however close van Wyk got, he was still a gulf away and he eventually decided to seek opportunity elsewhere. "I wanted to test my skills in a different environment," van Wyk said.

Then-Titans coach Dave Nosworthy received an offer to head up activities at Canterbury. Nosworthy approached van Wyk and opening batsman Johann Myburgh with an offer to broaden their horizons and the pair accepted.

At first the new environment was challenging for van Wyk. He made 267 runs in eight matches at an average of 29.66 in the 2006-07 season but improved steadily after that. In the next two seasons, he averaged over 40, batting higher up the order than his usual No. 7 in South Africa, and was appointed captain of his domestic side. "Responsibility and opportunity has made me a lot more rounded player," he said. "I've enjoyed batting up the order. My keeping has always been solid and something that comes naturally to me but I really grew as a batsman."

van Wyk's breakthrough season, in 2009-10, also included a massive test of character. He was stripped of the leadership role, supposedly in a bid to help him push for higher honours. Bob Carter, Canterbury's coach, called him the "next-best wicket-keeper in the country" behind Brendon McCullum. He averaged 57.55 that season and found himself on the doorstep of the national team.

The doorstep is not the entrance hall though, and van Wyk needed to take one further step. At the start of the next summer, he moved to Central Districts. His average soared to 63.00 in 2010-11 and this season, he currently lies fifth on the domestic first-class standings. It forced the national selectors to invite him for the pre-season training camp but they went on to leave him out of the squad for the Zimbabwe tour.

Reece Young was New Zealand's first choice wicket-keeper and played in that Test and in the series against Australia. His lean run prompted the selectors to look elsewhere and they set their sights on van Wyk and BJ Watling, who remains the favourite to stand behind the stumps.

Both played in the tour match against the Zimbabweans and both made their cases for inclusion in the one-off Test. Watling scored 84 in the first innings while van Wyk retired after reaching 61 in the second. John Wright, the New Zealand coach, said, "A decision on who will take the gloves in the Test will be made closer to the start of the match." van Wyk has admitted that he would relish nothing more than that decision going his way. "I would obviously prefer to keep as well but I'm going to support BJ and give it a full go with the bat."

These days, home is New Zealand to van Wyk. One thing his new home can be certain of is that he is will be committed to giving his adoptive country his best, because it was the place that gave him his biggest chance. "New Zealand as a country has been wonderful to me and my wife," he said. "The quality of life and opportunities that we have been given here has been unbelievable and we are very thankful for that. I really want to do well for the country that has been very good to us."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dr_Van_Nostrand on January 25, 2012, 4:34 GMT

    I hate this. Pick a kiwi like De Boorder and not another Trott/Pietersen moving countries purely to play international cricket.

  • SixFourOut on January 25, 2012, 0:14 GMT

    The New Zealand side 6 months from now will be...../////..... McCullum, Guptill, Ryder, Taylor, Brownlie, Williamson, Vettori, Van Wyk, Bracewell, Wagner, Boult....../////.....Southee will be gone after yet another hopeless performance although the'll be kiwis everywhere telling us how wonderful he is because he took 5 wickets in a match 4 years ago. Martin will retire. Hopefully Deboorder will continue his form to be the best batsman keeper in NZ an force his way in.

  • on January 24, 2012, 21:48 GMT

    1) Guptill, 2)MCCULLUM 3) Ryder 4) Taylor 5) williamson 6) vettori 7) Van wyak 8) bracewell 9) southee 10) mills 11) martin 12) jamse franklin is must ...

  • shaylin on January 24, 2012, 9:24 GMT

    Cornelius. Francoius. Kruger. Born and named in the Apartheid era! There is like 3 Afrikaans names (and reasons!) why this new South Africa will never play him!

    At least Pietersen and Strauss had a distant blood relation linking them to England...where is this Afrikaaners blood relation to NZ?

  • johnathonjosephs on January 24, 2012, 6:52 GMT

    what ever happened to grant elliot?

  • rahulcricket007 on January 24, 2012, 6:19 GMT

    SEEMS LIKE SOUTH AFRICA HAS THE LARGET PLAYERS PRODUCING FACTORY IN THE WORLD . CAN YOU PLEASE GIVE SOME PLAYERS TO INDIA ????

  • on January 24, 2012, 6:09 GMT

    new-zeeland keepers side .lol

  • venkatesh018 on January 24, 2012, 5:04 GMT

    Why doesn't this happen more often in international Test cricket? Why don't India's deserving players like Badrinath, Amol Mazumdar,Murali Kartik etc take the South African route and try to play for another country while still in their prime? Why doesn't the ICC facilitate this by relaxing the rules for a player to play for another country thereby evening out the strengths of Test playing nations.

  • getaclue on January 24, 2012, 4:43 GMT

    @gagg. So true, from reading this he has no family connection with NZ, simply went there coz he couldnt get a game in SA> not what it is all about

  • SixFourOut on January 24, 2012, 1:13 GMT

    Kruger is a better batsman and keeper than BJ, but what about Deboorder? He is the best keeper in the country and a better bat than BJ. I just don't get these kiwis sometimes

  • Dr_Van_Nostrand on January 25, 2012, 4:34 GMT

    I hate this. Pick a kiwi like De Boorder and not another Trott/Pietersen moving countries purely to play international cricket.

  • SixFourOut on January 25, 2012, 0:14 GMT

    The New Zealand side 6 months from now will be...../////..... McCullum, Guptill, Ryder, Taylor, Brownlie, Williamson, Vettori, Van Wyk, Bracewell, Wagner, Boult....../////.....Southee will be gone after yet another hopeless performance although the'll be kiwis everywhere telling us how wonderful he is because he took 5 wickets in a match 4 years ago. Martin will retire. Hopefully Deboorder will continue his form to be the best batsman keeper in NZ an force his way in.

  • on January 24, 2012, 21:48 GMT

    1) Guptill, 2)MCCULLUM 3) Ryder 4) Taylor 5) williamson 6) vettori 7) Van wyak 8) bracewell 9) southee 10) mills 11) martin 12) jamse franklin is must ...

  • shaylin on January 24, 2012, 9:24 GMT

    Cornelius. Francoius. Kruger. Born and named in the Apartheid era! There is like 3 Afrikaans names (and reasons!) why this new South Africa will never play him!

    At least Pietersen and Strauss had a distant blood relation linking them to England...where is this Afrikaaners blood relation to NZ?

  • johnathonjosephs on January 24, 2012, 6:52 GMT

    what ever happened to grant elliot?

  • rahulcricket007 on January 24, 2012, 6:19 GMT

    SEEMS LIKE SOUTH AFRICA HAS THE LARGET PLAYERS PRODUCING FACTORY IN THE WORLD . CAN YOU PLEASE GIVE SOME PLAYERS TO INDIA ????

  • on January 24, 2012, 6:09 GMT

    new-zeeland keepers side .lol

  • venkatesh018 on January 24, 2012, 5:04 GMT

    Why doesn't this happen more often in international Test cricket? Why don't India's deserving players like Badrinath, Amol Mazumdar,Murali Kartik etc take the South African route and try to play for another country while still in their prime? Why doesn't the ICC facilitate this by relaxing the rules for a player to play for another country thereby evening out the strengths of Test playing nations.

  • getaclue on January 24, 2012, 4:43 GMT

    @gagg. So true, from reading this he has no family connection with NZ, simply went there coz he couldnt get a game in SA> not what it is all about

  • SixFourOut on January 24, 2012, 1:13 GMT

    Kruger is a better batsman and keeper than BJ, but what about Deboorder? He is the best keeper in the country and a better bat than BJ. I just don't get these kiwis sometimes

  • Kiwi-Jake on January 24, 2012, 1:00 GMT

    Not entirely correct reporting here. Van Wyk will only be playing as a keeper at 6/7, not as a non-keeping opener. Should be keeper ahead of part-timer Watling.

  • yorkshirematt on January 23, 2012, 23:56 GMT

    Que umpteen comments from indians, aussies etc etc claiming that NZ are following in England's footsteps.

  • philknight on January 23, 2012, 23:46 GMT

    Guptill and McCullum will open for NZ. Wright was just having a look at the respective (supposed) weak points of our two keepers. Watling and van Wyk are battling for one keeping spot. Since we are looking to bat Vettori at six, and carry four seamers, we need runs from our keeper at seven.

  • MattBlake on January 23, 2012, 23:23 GMT

    Firdose may be ESPNcricinfor's South Africa correspondent but I think she needs to think a bit more about the New Zealand side before making some of the predictions in the article above.

    Unless someone is carrying an injury or injures themselves in the next couple of days, NZ's test side for the Zimbabwe game will be :

    McCullum, Guptill, Williamson, Taylor, Brownlie, Vettori, Watling*/van Wyk*, Bracewell, Southee, Boult, Martin.

    It looks like Watling will get the gloves (maybe 80-20 in his favour at present). Maybe a 10% chance Wells will replace one of the seamers.

    Of course, if she has some inside information about the make-up of the side, we'd love to hear it.

  • FatBoysCanBat on January 23, 2012, 22:51 GMT

    I don't get it...If both of Watling and van Wyk are going to play [which I doubt they will], why would a batsman who occasionally [hardly ever] keeps get the gloves over a guy who has kept his entire career - makes no sense at all. The reason I don't think both will play is because from the Hobart Test there is only Ryder and Young who are out, so Vettori will replace Ryder and one of Watling and van Wyk will come in for Young - from what I've heard the groundsman is leaving grass on the pitch and they will play the four quicks. If they only choose one it should be van Wyk. He is a much better keeper and his batting is probably just as good as Watling's. My team: 1 McCullum 2 Guptill 3 Taylor 4 Williamson 5 Brownlie 6 Vettori 7 van Wyk 8 Bracewell 9 Southee 10 Boult 11 Martin

  • SirBobJones on January 23, 2012, 22:41 GMT

    Not another one, how utterly ridiculous

  • on January 23, 2012, 22:03 GMT

    Good luck van Wyk! It's amazing how passionate you can be when your eyes can't look away from a dream.

  • StevieS on January 23, 2012, 21:32 GMT

    This is not what international sport is about, this is not an attack van Wyk as he is following the rules. But international sports is about representing your country not another country because you are not good enough, quotas or whatever. The rules need changed.

  • jabberwockynz on January 23, 2012, 21:28 GMT

    Great photo of Doug Bracewell.....????

  • stari09 on January 23, 2012, 20:48 GMT

    New Zealand going down the same route as sides like Norway, Germany, Italy and England and not picking players born in the country. Surely they got young Kiwi talent there.

  • MattBlake on January 23, 2012, 20:24 GMT

    Sorry, which one of McCullum and Guptill is going to be dropped / is injured ?

  • r1m2 on January 23, 2012, 20:19 GMT

    Seeing his fc stats at least as a batsman, he would've definitely made the NZ team had he been eligible to play earlier. Averaging close to 40 with the bat which a lot of specialist Kiwi bats can't boast at fc level, and also providing wk services would've been great for NZ. Too bad he couldn't play for SAfrica due to the endurance of Boucher. But IMO if he stayed in SAfrica, he would've gotten a look in right about now anyways. So, I don't think he achieved anything more by switching country.

  • D.S.A on January 23, 2012, 19:20 GMT

    ...and now a deserving New Zealand wicket-keeper, regardless of his skill level, will get fewer opportunities to succeed. Somebody describe the difference between Van Wyk and Keven Pietersen...Answer: A negligible difference. Neither should be representing any other country other than South Africa, but when that's not an option, let's represent another country and get a tattoo to prove my allegiance, in Pietersen's case.

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  • D.S.A on January 23, 2012, 19:20 GMT

    ...and now a deserving New Zealand wicket-keeper, regardless of his skill level, will get fewer opportunities to succeed. Somebody describe the difference between Van Wyk and Keven Pietersen...Answer: A negligible difference. Neither should be representing any other country other than South Africa, but when that's not an option, let's represent another country and get a tattoo to prove my allegiance, in Pietersen's case.

  • r1m2 on January 23, 2012, 20:19 GMT

    Seeing his fc stats at least as a batsman, he would've definitely made the NZ team had he been eligible to play earlier. Averaging close to 40 with the bat which a lot of specialist Kiwi bats can't boast at fc level, and also providing wk services would've been great for NZ. Too bad he couldn't play for SAfrica due to the endurance of Boucher. But IMO if he stayed in SAfrica, he would've gotten a look in right about now anyways. So, I don't think he achieved anything more by switching country.

  • MattBlake on January 23, 2012, 20:24 GMT

    Sorry, which one of McCullum and Guptill is going to be dropped / is injured ?

  • stari09 on January 23, 2012, 20:48 GMT

    New Zealand going down the same route as sides like Norway, Germany, Italy and England and not picking players born in the country. Surely they got young Kiwi talent there.

  • jabberwockynz on January 23, 2012, 21:28 GMT

    Great photo of Doug Bracewell.....????

  • StevieS on January 23, 2012, 21:32 GMT

    This is not what international sport is about, this is not an attack van Wyk as he is following the rules. But international sports is about representing your country not another country because you are not good enough, quotas or whatever. The rules need changed.

  • on January 23, 2012, 22:03 GMT

    Good luck van Wyk! It's amazing how passionate you can be when your eyes can't look away from a dream.

  • SirBobJones on January 23, 2012, 22:41 GMT

    Not another one, how utterly ridiculous

  • FatBoysCanBat on January 23, 2012, 22:51 GMT

    I don't get it...If both of Watling and van Wyk are going to play [which I doubt they will], why would a batsman who occasionally [hardly ever] keeps get the gloves over a guy who has kept his entire career - makes no sense at all. The reason I don't think both will play is because from the Hobart Test there is only Ryder and Young who are out, so Vettori will replace Ryder and one of Watling and van Wyk will come in for Young - from what I've heard the groundsman is leaving grass on the pitch and they will play the four quicks. If they only choose one it should be van Wyk. He is a much better keeper and his batting is probably just as good as Watling's. My team: 1 McCullum 2 Guptill 3 Taylor 4 Williamson 5 Brownlie 6 Vettori 7 van Wyk 8 Bracewell 9 Southee 10 Boult 11 Martin

  • MattBlake on January 23, 2012, 23:23 GMT

    Firdose may be ESPNcricinfor's South Africa correspondent but I think she needs to think a bit more about the New Zealand side before making some of the predictions in the article above.

    Unless someone is carrying an injury or injures themselves in the next couple of days, NZ's test side for the Zimbabwe game will be :

    McCullum, Guptill, Williamson, Taylor, Brownlie, Vettori, Watling*/van Wyk*, Bracewell, Southee, Boult, Martin.

    It looks like Watling will get the gloves (maybe 80-20 in his favour at present). Maybe a 10% chance Wells will replace one of the seamers.

    Of course, if she has some inside information about the make-up of the side, we'd love to hear it.