Williamson hails ‘tough competitor’ Watling, allays NZ injury concerns

England in New Zealand 2019/20
Kane Williamson

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson hailed the resolve of BJ Watling, whose epic double century underpinned the innings-and-65-run victory over England in the first Test.

Watling came to the crease at Mount Maunganui with New Zealand in trouble on 127 for four in response to England’s 353 all out but he departed with the score on 603 for nine after a diligent and workmanlike innings.

His 205 spanned 473 balls – more than Williamson has ever faced in a Test innings – and over 11 hours as he registered the highest score by a New Zealand wicketkeeper, allowing the Black Caps to declare on 615 for nine.

Williamson said: “BJ Watling is such a tough competitor but he just cares about the team so much to get them into a position to win cricket games.

“It goes a long way to him applying himself for near on 500 balls which is an amazing effort. A lot of people wish they could bat 500 balls, including myself.”

Williamson defended the flat and slow surface at the Bay Oval, hosting its first Test, where Neil Wagner’s five-for and three wickets for Mitch Santner saw England bundled out for 197 on the final day.

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Williamson said: “In some respects it was quite unique for New Zealand where you’re generally looking to bowl first because the wickets are so green.

“It wasn’t far away, you put another new ball on that surface and it would be a lot more demanding and challenging.

“We saw from both spinners the number of deliveries that kept low and turned, some going straight, it meant it was a fantastic surface for a result and something unique for us in New Zealand.”

New Zealand’s victory was achieved despite Trent Boult only bowling one over on Monday after experiencing pain in the right side of his ribs.

The left-arm seamer will undergo an MRI on Tuesday and his availability for the second Test in Hamilton, which starts later this week, is in doubt.



Williamson said: “Hopefully the scan comes back clear but we’ll have to wait and see.”

Williamson himself was off the field at the moment of New Zealand’s victory, raising concerns about a hip injury that saw him miss the Twenty20 series between the teams.

He added: “I think it should be OK, I was just trying to get it loosened off and they took the two wickets. It’s not the same (injury) but in a similar area. Hopefully just a bit of a niggle.”