The trivial pursuit question likely to be answered in a flash when former Northerns greats are concerned is: who was the former Titans wicketkeeper-batsman who led Canterbury to their first State Championship title and made his debut against South Africa shortly afterwards for the Black Caps.
And just when you are ready to phone a friend and have run out of ideas – he also denied the Proteas almost certain victory at the Basin Reserve in Wellington while occupying the crease for 100 minutes of stone-walling, scoring 39 runs and striking five fours.
The answer is Kruger van Wyk, currently heading up the cricket program at the University of Pretoria, who won the National Club Championship in 2017 under the astute leadership of the 37 year-old former Titans player.
Van Wyk was a product of one of Northerns’ most famous cricket nurseries and such was his talent that he represented the first team from grade eight to twelve. He was selected for the Northerns u/19 team at the tender age of 15.
Van Wyk played for Northerns from 2000/01 until his departure in 2006 to join Canterbury, where he wore the captain’s armband in only his second season with the Wizards.
“Dave Nosworthy approached me. I was part of the Titans team and happy in the environment, but I thought I would give it a go in New Zealand,” said Kruger.
Asked about his career, Van Wyk said he would not change a thing if he was to be given a second chance. “I think one of my highlights was making my debut against South Africa. It was a world-class attack and I adapted well. I thought that I proved that I belonged at that level.”
He struck an attractive 36 in his first innings.
A pivotal moment came in his third Test where New Zealand had to score an improbable 389 for victory. Kane Williamson needed a lower-order batsman to stay with him and the hosts had to bat for virtually a day to save the Test.
Van Wyk batted for almost two hours against the hostile attack which included Dale Steyn, Morné Morkel, Vernon Philander and Marchant de Lange. In his 100 minutes, he slammed five fours, faced 80 balls and assisted New Zealand in holding out for a draw. Williamson contributed a ton, but New Zealand owed a huge debt of gratitude to Van Wyk’s defiance.
“The 71 I scored against India in Bangalore – my highest Test score – was a standout-moment, because the ball was turning and I had to apply myself,” he added.
Van Wyk said he developed his batting substantially while in New Zealand, as he had more opportunities to bat higher up the order. In South Africa, he played at number seven, and was pencilled in as the wicketkeeper.
But in New Zealand, he opened the innings at a stage and his batting flourished.
His 6734 first-class runs at an average of 39.61 included seven tons, with a highest score of 178 not out. In nine Tests for New Zealand, he averaged 21.31. The diminutive wicketkeeper-batsman with the heart of a Kalahari lion was often the glue that held the innings together while shepherding the lower order, and therefore the statistics belied his real value to the team.
He holds the Central Districts’ record for most dismissals in a season (40 in 2014/15), and most most dismissals in a match (10 in 2014/15), and most catches in a match (10 in 2014/15).
“Reflecting on my career, I am immensely proud, having represented South Africa A and New Zealand. I am content and at peace with what I achieved,” he said. “I played for 17 seasons, of which ten were in New Zealand and I wouldn’t change a thing if I was offered a second chance.”
“At Tuks, my role is to oversee all the structures and to fulfil and administrative role. We want to produce players that can be stars at a higher level, and as a team we aim to push ourselves to a new level of excellence.”