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Watling to retire after World Test Championship final

NZ news

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Wicket-keeper BJ Watling has announced he will hang up the gloves at the end of New Zealand’s tour of England.

Wicket-keeper BJ Watling has announced he will hang up the gloves at the end of New Zealand’s tour of England.

Watling has been capped 73 times in Test cricket to date and played the last of his 28 ODIs in 2018.

Debuting for New Zealand as an old school opener in 2009, Watling went on to become one of the finest wicket-keepers in the game, wearing the gloves in 65 matches.

If he plays both Tests against England and the ICC World Test Championship final in June he will become New Zealand’s most-capped Test wicket-keeper of all time, breaking Adam Parore’s 67-match record.

Watling already has a host of Test records to his name for New Zealand. His 257 dismissals for the country are the most completed by a Black Caps keeper, 56 more than second-placed Parore. He has Brendon McCullum covered for the most runs by a New Zealand Test keeper, with 3381 to the former captain’s 2803. He also boasts the most Test tons by a New Zealand keeper (seven) and the highest individual score (205).

“It’s the right time,” Watling said. “It’s been a huge honour to represent New Zealand and in particular wear the Test baggy. Test cricket really is the pinnacle of the game and I’ve loved every minute of being out there in the whites with the boys.

“Sitting in the changing rooms having a beer with the team after five days’ toil is what I’ll miss the most.

“I’ve played with some great players and made many good mates. I’ve also had plenty of help along the way for which I’ll always be grateful.

“My wife Jess has been a constant source of stability and support and I’m certainly looking forward to being able to spend more time with her and the kids. I also owe a big thanks to my mum for steering me in the right direction early on and always being there for me.”

Watling added he was focused on finishing his career in style, with his retirement announcement expedited by the impending release of New Zealand’s contract list on Friday.

“Although I’ve had to make this announcement ahead of the tour to England, my focus is very much on the three Tests ahead and preparing to perform in them.

“This tour will be a challenge on a few levels and we know as a team we will need to be at the very top of our game if we want to succeed.”

New Zealand Cricket chief David White praised Watling for his courage and determination following the announcement.

“BJ turned games around,” White said. “I can’t think of another player who reacted so positively, and who was successful in the face of adversity.

“His ability to wring every possible run out of the tail was unmatched; his work behind the stumps tireless and efficient.

“He has a quiet, unassuming and undemonstrative manner that belies the huge appetite he has for the contest and the challenge.

“BJ’s been a huge part of the success of the current Black Caps team and on behalf of NZC, I want to wish him well for the upcoming Tests in England and life after cricket.”

Black Caps coach Gary Stead paid homage to his side’s Mr Dependable behind the stumps.

“BJ is a wonderful player and a great bloke,” Stead said. “He works really hard on his game to get improvements and always puts the team first.

“You just have to look at the respect he’s held in by his teammates and the opposition to appreciate his standing in the game.

“The records speak for themselves and he’s been such a crucial cog in the Test team’s rise over the past decade.

“That double hundred he scored at the Mount in 2019 was one of the best innings I’ve ever seen and epitomised BJ Watling as a player, really.

“The attitude and fight he brings to every day and every session of a Test is what has made him such a valued member of the Black Caps.

“He is without a doubt one of our best ever wicket-keeper batsmen.”

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