New Zealand wicketkeeper BJ Watling, who on Tuesday revealed that he would be retiring after the WTC Final, revealed that over the past four to five months, he came to the realization that his time was up. Watling further asserted that he would love to finish his international career on a high.
Over the past decade, wicket-keeper BJ Watling has been the unsung hero of New Zealand cricket, and on Tuesday the 35-year-old revealed that post the World Test Championship final, he would be hanging his boots. The timing of Watling’s decision took many aback, but the wicket-keeper stepping away from the game three months after New Zealand attained the #1 ranking in Test cricket is a move not many saw coming.
However, addressing the media on Wednesday, the wicket-keeper batsman insisted that he knew that his time was up. Watling revealed that over the past four to five months, he came to the realization that he would no longer be able to keep up with the high standards of international cricket, and further asserted that he now hopes to spend more time with his family.
“I know the standards were quite (high) to keep it going at this level. To be honest, it's tougher now, with a little family at home. Things are busy. I think it's time now that I look into other things and spend more time at home. It's a bit harder to put all that focus into just cricket,” Watling told reporters on Wednesday.
“It was a couple of weeks ago that I told everyone. I think over a little period of time - [in] the last four to five months - I have realised that I my time is up. I would also like to finish on a massive high with a big tour.”
Watling’s last Test will incidentally be the biggest red-ball encounter in New Zealand cricket history, but the 35-year-old stressed that he won’t be putting any extra pressure on himself. The wicket-keeper batsman insisted that he will be looking to take things one session at a time, and added that, apart from the WTC Final, he is also looking at the prospect of facing England in their own backyard.
“Not looking at it like that,” Watling said, when asked if he was feeling the pressure.
“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.
“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.”
Watling, incidentally, started his Test career off as an opening batsman, but the right-hander quipped that he was thankful to have stepped away from that role. The 35-year-old said that he loved the challenge of keeping wickets, and added that he thoroughly enjoyed his time with both the bat and gloves.
“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.”
Watling, as things stand, will be succeeded by Tom Blundell, and the veteran had nothing but words of praise for his successor. Blundell is currently plying his trade as an opener, but Watling’s retirement would enable the 30-year-old to go back to his favoured position of batting down the order.
“Tom's been fantastic for us. He's obviously [had] the challenge of opening the batting and stood up to that very well. [He got a] fantastic hundred at the MCG, which was pretty special and I know his glovework is certainly up to standard. I look around the domestic scene and I think most of the boys in each association have been keeping really well over the last few years,” Watling said.