Nicky van den Bergh is pushing for more honours after winning the Domestic Newcomer of the Year at the CSA awards.
Winning the Domestic Newcomer of the Year award at the annual CSA event in July might have been a long time coming for a player who turned 27 the month before, but for Van den Bergh, it’s just the start.
His contributions as a wicketkeeper-batsman across all the formats last season, in which he needed to step up due to Quinton de Kock’s move to the Titans and Thami Tsolekile’s off-field issues, helped the Lions to the Momentum One Day Cup trophy and second spot in the Sunfoil Series.
Most cricketers are firmly established in their careers at his age, but his studies took up a lot of his time in his early-20s, as he studied law, interned and passed the bar, before qualifying as an admitted attorney. He has a solid career to fall back on when his cricket career comes to an end.
‘The law has taken a back seat for now,’ he tells SA Cricket magazine. ‘I am very excited about that, because it gives me more time to focus on my cricket.’
Van den Bergh is fresh on the franchise scene, but he’s been plying his trade with North West since February 2010. When he got the call-up to play for the Lions last season he grabbed his opportunity with both hands, scoring five half-centuries in 16 Sunfoil Series innings and scoring 113 runs from four One Day Cup innings at an average of 37.66.
Living up to his award, Van den Bergh carried his form through to the 2016-17 season, notching up his first century for the Lions against the Knights in late-October. He almost got a second one a week later, falling for an agonising 99.
This season has provided a new challenge for him, as wicketkeeper Mangaliso Mosehle’s signing forced Van Den Bergh to take off the gloves and attempt to keep his place purely as a batsman higher up the order, which, so far, he’s done with distinction.
‘I would still like to keep, but I am a big believer in doing what’s best for the side, contributing wherever you can. At the moment there’s a good balance to the side with Mangi taking the gloves,’ he says.
If he continues to pile on the runs across the formats, higher honours will creep onto his to-do list.
‘I want to be involved for the Lions in all three formats. If my contributions allow us to win trophies, then the accolades and call-ups will go hand-in-hand.’
By Juandre Joubert