Van Wyk anointed as NZ's top wicketkeeper

MATT RICHENS
Last updated 05:00 21/06/2012
Kruger van Wyk
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CONTRACTED: Kruger van Wyk is now New Zealand Cricket's No1 wicket-keeper.

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Kruger van Wyk is now New Zealand Cricket's No1 wicket-keeper.

The South African-born 32-year-old was yesterday awarded his first national contract and soon after national selection manager Kim Littlejohn confirmed that contract was on the back of van Wyk now being considered their No1 gloveman.

Van Wyk has only kept in three tests, all against the country of his birth, and while he performed admirably, averaging 24.60 with the bat and keeping tidily, many assumed he was just filling in for the injured BJ Watling.

But as a back-up test specialist, he was unlikely to receive a central contract, even with test status given more weight than ODI and Twenty20 cricket in selection discussions.

Littlejohn yesterday confirmed the diminutive van Wyk had overtaken Watling, who scored his maiden century in his last test before missing the South African series through injury.

"We're saying that Kruger is our preferred test keeper at the moment. We're looking at him as the incumbent test keeper," Littlejohn said. "BJ is still coming back from injury so at this stage the job is Kruger's and BJ, well, we'll see how things go in the West Indies."

The decision to favour van Wyk impacted on Canterbury's Tom Latham's national contract chances.

Long-term, Latham – who is 12 years van Wyk's junior – has more to offer, as he will play in all three formats and for much longer.

If Watling was considered the test No1, Latham was far more likely to pick up a contract but Littlejohn said New Zealand Cricket wanted to see more of Latham.

"What we'd like to see him do is play some more international cricket, establish himself and earn the contract through consistent performances," Littlejohn said. "I've had a chat to Tom and he understands where we're coming from."

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