BJ Watling says right time for him to leave the game, UK tour will be special:After announcing his decision to retire from all forms of cricket, New Zealand wicketkeeper-batsman BJ Watling on Wednesday said that it is the right time for him to leave the game.
New Zealand Cricket (NZC) on Tuesday announced that wicketkeeper-batsman BJ Watling will be retiring from international cricket after the tour of England. The 35-year-old has been a stalwart of the Test side since debuting in 2009 as an opening batsman, going on to establish himself as a world-class keeper-batsman and claiming numerous records in his 73 Tests to date. “There’s a few factors. I think it’s the right time for me to leave the game. I’m thoroughly looking forward to the three huge Test matches to finish off. It should be exciting. Toiling away for five days, in harsh conditions sometimes…Sitting back, looking around the group and having beer with the team. That’ll certainly be the times I miss the most,” ESPNcricinfo quoted Watling as saying.
“I think it’s exciting that we’ve got two Tests against England to start with. It’s a great place to play cricket there, [a] very tough opposition. It’ll be nice to beat them on home soil. And to obviously finish with a Test final. It’s going to be a pretty special tour. I’m looking forward to it still and there’s a lot of cricket to be played,” he added.
When asked whether there would be pressure on him on this UK tour, Watling said: “Not looking at it like that. To be honest, it’s session by session, ball by ball and it is what it is. I’m trying not to put pressure on one particular game. We’ve got two Test matches leading into it at the moment, leading into the WTC final.”
Watling holds the New Zealand Test dismissals record with 249 catches (excluding 10 as a fielder) and eight stumpings — the best numbers of any current Test keepers. Watling’s batting statistics are equally eye-catching: with eight Test centuries to his name and New Zealand records for the fourth and fifth-highest partnerships: 362 with Brendon McCullum against India at the Basin Reserve in 2014, and 365* with current captain Kane Williamson against Sri Lanka at the same ground a year later.
He is just the ninth Test keeper to score a double hundred and was the first to do so against England, when his Player of the Match performance helped win a dramatic Test against England at Bay Oval in November 2019. He also featured in another New Zealand record-partnership in that match as he and Mitchell Santner put on 261 for the seventh wicket.
“I’ve put a lot of hard work in. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the journey so far and can hopefully finish on a high. You do get a bit of a rest batting down in the middle order, which is quite enjoyable. You get a break between innings. Opening is very tough, having to field for potentially 140 overs and going straight out and bat, which is dreadful. So I don’t miss that at all. Yeah, you do keep in some harsh conditions, like in India. I look back at the challenges of having to become a keeper, to make sure I was up to the international standards. I thoroughly enjoyed putting my time into that as well as my batting,” said Watling.
“I still look back at one of the West Indies trips [in 2014], and for me, that was the greatest trip of all time. But there’s been many more. Wins overseas are pretty special, and winning in the UAE against Pakistan [in 2018] was a fantastic series to be a part of, and to beat them in neutral — but home conditions for them — was quite a pleasing trip,” he added.
If Watling plays all three Tests on the upcoming tour, two against England (June 2-6 and 10-14) and the ICC World Test Championship Final against India on June 18-22, he will surpass Adam Parore’s record of most Tests as a New Zealand keeper at 67. Watling played his entire domestic career for Northern Districts featuring in 91 First-Class matches, 62 T20 games, and 90 List A fixtures for the Major Association.