The name Chris van Noordwyk will forever be associated with a transitional phase in the history of Northerns, a turning of the tide as a good Hennops River based team slowly but surely became an unstoppable force in South African domestic cricket.
“I am very proud that I was part of the team that contributed to the winning of 14 trophies, whether at under-19 level, in amateur cricket or at franchise level,” said Van Noordwyk, a coach of the Titans from 2009 to 2011 and an assistant to Richard Pybus, Dave Nosworthy and Keith Medlycott prior to that.
Van Noordwyk, with Anton Ferreira and Nosworthy, also set up a Vodacom Northerns Academy in 1997 and that nursery became a catalyst for the production of some of the finest players in the country.
He played a prominent role as Titans’ cricket coordinator and was responsible for identifying and developing talent, with Roelof van der Merwe and Farhaan Behardien amongst many others developing fast.
At the infancy stage of the academy, David Townsend, and later Alviro Petersen, Kruger van Wyk and Dale Steyn earned their stripes and after the start of the new millennium, Northerns, and later the Titans, started filling the trophy cabinet. Under Pybus, with Van Noordwyk as his assistant, the Titans claimed seven trophies – a phenomenal achievement.
Van Noordwyk, now the high performance coach at the University of Pretoria and consultant to the South African under-19 team, displayed his talent at an early age when he opened the bowling for the South African schools team in 1988/89 with Brett Schultz, who later successfully opened the bowling for the Proteas.
Breaking into the Northerns team at the age of 19 was hardly possible in those days. You had to compete with Steve Elworthy, Tertius Bosch, Fanie de Villiers and there were elder statesmen like Lee Barnard, Vernon du Preez and the West Indian Ezra Moseley in that very competitive set-up.
“Those were hard men and I feel so privileged to have plied my trade and learned under senior players like that. We certainly possessed the X-factor with the ball and had arguably the best attack in the country. It was just that the balance between bat and ball was not always perfect and we prepared green tops as hosts, so visiting attacks also put us under pressure,” he said.
“Another player I was privileged to have as a colleague, was the excellent Ferreira.”
“Apart from my debut at age 19, I still remember my 6-100 (a career-best) against Natal. It was a very tough time. Natal boasted Errol Stewart, Andrew Hudson, Jonty Rhodes, Clive Rice, Shaun Pollock, Lance Klusener and Malcolm Marshall, so there were no weak teams in those competitions,” he said.
“But ultimately I feel proud to be associated with the pipeline-structures that developed Northerns cricket and produced good, young players which resulted in the Titans and Northerns dominating cricket in South Africa in the past 20 years.
“I will never forget being part of the management team when we won our historical first-ever Standard Bank day/night trophy against Natal in the late 1990’s,” added Noordwyk.