Kruger van Wyk faces axe from Black Caps

HAMISH BIDWELL
Last updated 05:00 07/12/2012
kruger van wyk
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BIG SHOT: Wicketkeeper-batsman Kruger van Wyk playing for the Black Caps against the West Indies.

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South African-born Black Caps wicketkeeper Kruger van Wyk is set to be denied an opportunity to play test cricket on home soil.

It is understood that 32-year-old van Wyk has lost his place in the New Zealand test team to BJ Watling - himself South African-born but New Zealand-raised.

The biggest talking point of today's team announcement, the availability of Ross Taylor, remained unconfirmed last night, but Brendon McCullum seemed almost certain to be named skipper of both test and Twenty20 squads.

Watling had been annointed New Zealand's No 1 test keeper earlier this year, before a hip injury forced him to cede the gloves to van Wyk.

Van Wyk has done an admirable job, impressing plenty of people with his grit and competitiveness. He averages 21.31 in nine tests and has recorded 24 dismissals, after making his debut against South Africa at Dunedin in March.

But it's understood van Wyk won't be in the New Zealand team which meets the Proteas in tests at Cape Town and Port Elizabeth early next month.

Watling has kept wicket in just one of his previous eight tests, having first been picked as an opening batsman. Like van Wyk, Watling is a busy, hard-working cricketer, who will give everything he has to the team cause.

Watling was the brightest batting light during New Zealand's rain-affected limited overs series in Sri Lanka and there was some surprise that he hadn't been named in the Black Caps squad for the two tests that followed.

But there remains a feeling that Watling perhaps lacks a touch of genuine class and it might be that Wellington's Luke Ronchi eventually becomes the test gloveman. New Zealand-born Ronchi, a former Australian limited overs representative, becomes eligible to play for the Black Caps next month and returned to this country from Perth with the express intention of making the national side.

Elsewhere, a recall for Canterbury batsman Dean Brownlie looks likely.

He lost his place in the side after being found out by the West Indies' slow bowlers during the winter. Subsequent tours to India and Sri Lanka were hardly the right arenas for a return to the team, but the wickets in South Africa should suit him better. Born and bred in Western Australia, Brownlie is considered a fine back-foot player.

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While he's expected to come back, there's also an anticipated reprieve for Wellington's James Franklin. Dropped for last month's 167-run test win over Sri Lanka, Franklin should be retained in New Zealand's squad of 15, according to his provincial coach Jamie Siddons.

"I'm pretty confident he'll get another crack," Siddons said.

Black Caps coach and chief selector Mike Hesson has indicated that players will receive ample opportunities to cement spots in the squad and Siddons felt that definitely applied to Franklin.

"He's made some good impact and he might not have made the runs he would like, but it is a different attack, a different country and if he's good enough to be on the tour he should get a good run at it," said Siddons. "That's what Hesson's guaranteed guys, that they'll get a good run at it, and get the chance to prove themselves."

New Zealand begin their South African tour with three Twenty20 matches, the first of which is a warm-up game against a South African XI on December 18.

It's expected that Hesson will name an almost identical squad to the one which toured Sri Lanka recently, with Martin Guptill the most notable addition to that side.

- The Dominion Post

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