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New Zealand wicketkeeper BJ Watling to retire after World Test Championship final on England tour

New Zealand wicketkeeper-batsman BJ Watling has announced he would be retiring from international cricket after the three Tests, including the World Test Championship final against India, on their upcoming England tour. Watling, 35, has played 73 Tests, 28 ODIs and 5 T20Is for the BlackCaps.

BJ Watling has been one of the pillars of the current New Zealand side led by Kane Williamson. The 35-year-old played an integral role in their rise to the top, scoring 3773 runs, including 8 hundreds, in 73 Tests. Watling became just the 9th wicketkeeper to hit a double hundred and the first to hiit a double against England when he did so in Bay Oval in 2019. Watling has been involved in two 350-plus stands, one with Brendon McCullum in 2014 against India and the other with Kane Williamson the following year.

Watling is known for his solid approach to batting — someone who is hard to dislodge batting in the lower middle-order for New Zealand. The Northern Districts star was also a top wicketkeeper, having taken 259 catches (10 as outfielder) and affected 8 stumps in his decorated career.

“It’s the right time. 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,” Watling told New Zealand Cricket.

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

BJ thanks wife, mum for constant support

Watling, who recently became father for the 2nd time, thanked his family for the support they have been able to offer during his career.

“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,” he added.

Watling stressed that his decision to retire will not take away the focus he will be putting towards helping New Zealand perform well in the upcoming Tests.

“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,” Watling said.

“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.”

‘BJ turned games around’

New Zealand chief executive David White heaped praise on Watling, highlighting his ability to fight with the tail and score crucial runs for Kane Williamson’s side.

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

“He has a quiet, unassuming and undemonstrative manner that belies the huge appetite he has for the contest and the challenge. BJ turned games around. I can’t think of another player who reacted so positively, and who was successful in the face of adversity,” he added.

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