New Zealand’s Spiderman – BJ Watling
By P - Mar 31, 2018 7:18 am
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When BJ Watling was growing up, perhaps he was told that with a low batting position, comes a great responsibility. New Zealand’s Test match specialist wicketkeeper Bradley John Watling today in a stirring display gave a brilliant account of his batting skills as he combined with Colin De Grandhomme to put up the 142-run partnership for the sixth wicket. This partnership materialized when New Zealand was tottering at 36/5.

BJ Watling (Photo: AFP)

After winning the First Test comfortably, New Zealand sensed blood when they had England for 7/164 in the first innings of the second Test. England recovered thanks to Jonny Bairstow (101) and Mark Wood (52) and mounted a total of 304 runs. In reply, New Zealand stuttered to 17/4 with Broad and Anderson wrecking havoc.

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The hopes of a fightback diminished when Kane Williamson edged a leg-side delivery to Bairstow with the score being 36.  The all-rounder Colin De Grandhomme walked out next and joined the gutsy gloveman, BJ Watling. Both accepted the English challenge and started accruing quick runs. The partnership was broken by Stuart Broad with just five overs remaining on the second day. Watling, however, still stands strong at the crease facing a deficit of 115 runs.

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This exceptional fighting spirit in trying situations is nothing new for the courageous wicketkeeper. BJ Watling has four times featured in a 200+ runs partnership for the sixth wicket. Here are the past few instances of his heroics.

352 runs partnership with Brendon McCullum vs India, 2013/14

At 94/5 in the third innings of the second Test, New Zealand was effectively -152/5. The innings defeat was obvious and only the margin would be a point of debate. But the two New Zealand wicketkeepers kept their wickets intact for the next 352 runs. The partnership saved New Zealand from a definite loss and eventually the match was drawn. This was the world-record partnership at that time for the sixth wicket.

365* runs partnership with Kane Williamson vs Sri Lanka, 2014/15

Williamson-Watling’s sixth wicket partnership is the second highest in Test cricket currently. (Photo: ARYSports TV)

Sri Lanka thanks to Sangakkara and Chandimal resurrected themselves from 78/5 to 356 all out, taking a lead of 135 runs in the process. New Zealand in their second dig found itself at 159/5 which was effectively only 24/5. Williamson and Watling batted like they were blessed with immortality and set a new world-record sixth-wicket partnership of 365 runs. Blackcaps won the Test by 193 runs.