TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
TEN years ago Kruger van Wyk moved to New Zealand in a bid to live a dream that was an unlikely reality while Mark Boucher remained entrenched in the SA team: to play international cricket.
Six months ago, with nine test caps for the Kiwis among his treasures, Van Wyk retraced his steps and is now coaching at the High Performance Centre (HPC) in Pretoria.
So, is he a Saffer or a Kiwi in cricket terms?
“These are the guys who I played for and my priorities, even though I’m coaching and living in SA at the moment, are still with the side,” Van Wyk said in Pretoria. “I’ve played test cricket for New Zealand and I’m proud of that.”
Considering 48 of his 138 first-class matches were in SA and the other 90 in New Zealand, and that the latter system gave him his chance to fulfill his potential, Van Wyk’s position should not sit uncomfortably.
But it does. Perhaps because his current charges are New Zealand, who are at the HPC preparing for tours of Zimbabwe and SA. Moreover, the idea to ease the New Zealanders into African conditions was Van Wyk’s.
“I got in touch with (New Zealand manager) Mike Sandal and (coach) Mike Hesson probably about three months ago, just being really keen to help get New Zealand to test series victories,” Van Wyk said.
“I know what it’s like to tour, to want to get the best preparation, and I had no doubt that we could help them with that.
“So as a coach and as an ex-player I think a lot of it is about giving back to the game, giving back to the people who’ve always been good to you.
“I’m extremely thankful to New Zealand cricket, who’ve always been good to me, and it’s time to give back.”
Those words will hurt, however unintentionally, South Africans who scan the cricket headlines with trepidation; hoping not to learn of another compatriot’s decision to take their skills and experience to a foreign country.
Whether the move is made out of hopefulness or selfishness, whether those who are leaving are players, coaches, administrators or commentators, and whether that foreign country is Australia, New Zealand or Zimbabwe, the loss and disappointment stings.
Why can’t these South Africans find a place in SA cricket’s sun? Don’t they want to or does the game not want them?
Those questions, and many more on that theme, will have to be addressed, openly and honestly, if the game is to have a healthy future in SA. If they aren’t, the loss and disappointment will harden into the reality that there is no reason to stay.
But, for now, there is a reason to be cheerful: one of those who flew over the cuckoo’s nest has returned. Welcome back, Mr Van Wyk.