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Happy Birthday, BJ Watling: New Zealand’s Finest Wicketkeeper-Batter

New Zealand former wicketkeeper-batsman BJ Watling.

New Zealand former wicketkeeper-batsman BJ Watling.

Black Caps legend bid adieu to the gentlemen game by lifting the coveted Test mace as New Zealand defeated India in the final of the World Test Championship

Bradley-John Watling is celebrating his 36th birthday today. The New Zealand wicketkeeper-batter retired from international cricket last month after a dream farewell that saw his team winning the inaugural ICC World Test Championship by beating India in the final. During his international career, which spanned from 2009 to 2021, Watling quietly established himself as a pillar of the side, especially in Test cricket.

He was a Test mainstay and played an integral role in New Zealand’s rise to the top. The Durban-born started his cricket career as an opening batsman but ended up becoming a reliable wicketkeeper who impressed with his temperament and attractive stroke play in the lower-middle order. However, his journey from the streets of struggle to the roads of glory wasn’t an easy one.

Indian skipper Virat Kohli, before the start of play on the reserve day of the WTC final, congratulated New Zealand wicketkeeper-batsman BJ Watling, who was playing his final Test match.

Watling spent most of his childhood in Durban, South Africa before finally moving to New Zealand at the age of ten. The right-hander initially grabbed the attention with his impressive performance in the U-19 World Cup in 2003-04, hosted in Bangladesh. On the back of the scintillating run in the World Cup, he was drafted into the Norther District squad.

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Watling was at his fluent best during his stint with Northern District, He was the second-highest run-getter for his state team during the 2006-07 session as he ended up with 564 runs at 37.60. More eye-catching performances in the domestic circuit earned Watling a place in the New Zealand One Day squad against Pakistan in 2009.

However, the batsmen failed to find a spot in the playing XI and warmed the bench for the entire tour. Meanwhile, Watling’s wicketkeeping skills helped him in earning a spot in the NZ T20I side and made his international debut in November, 2009.

A month later, he made his Test debut and in August 2010, he played his first ever ODI. However, Watling found himself in and out of the NZ limited-overs team.

His Test career, on the other hand, took a flight as Brendon McCullum gave up keeping wickets in the longest format.

Watling grabbed the chance and then there was no looking back.

He went on play 75 Tests and 28 One Day Internationals. The right-handed batsman has 3790 Test and 573 ODI runs under his belt at an average of 37.5 and 24.9.  Behind the stumps in Test cricket, he took 267 catches and effected eight stumpings.

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first published:July 09, 2021, 08:35 IST