Watling expects major spin threat in Windies
The Caribbean bowling barrage may be based on turn, Ian Anderson reports.
Black Caps wicketkeeper BJ Watling is readying himself for a West Indian barrage – of spin.
The Northern Knights batsman/keeper left on Sunday as part of the national side to play a series of Twenty20, one-day and test matches against the Windies.
And far from the heydays of hell in the Caribbean against fearsome pace bowlers, Watling expects his skills with the gloves and bat to be tested by the slow bowlers.
"I'm preparing for a barrage of spin," Watling told the Waikato Times.
"From what we saw when Australia toured there, and what we've been hearing, they [the pitches] weren't the greatest. They were low and slow, and with a lot of turn."
That should provide plenty of work for Watling, who was chosen this summer as the Black Caps first-choice test keeper and made his maiden test ton in that role immediately against Zimbabwe, only to miss the series against South Africa with a groin injury.
After spending four days last week with some of the national team's bowlers at a training camp in Australia, Watling is confident his recovery from injury is complete.
"It was good for me to get out there and catch some balls, get my workloads up and just good to get outside.
"The injury felt really good – I tested it out a lot last week and it held up well.
"I've been doing my rehab and it's got better and better. I will definitely get a decent workout, but I'm confident I'll get through it."
Watling was named in all three New Zealand squads for the tour, which starts in Florida this weekend.
"I was obviously quite surprised to make the Twenty20 leg – I don't think my domestic performances have been that great, but now I have the opportunity to prove myself."
However, Watling has fashioned a superb domestic one-day record with the Knights. The 26-year-old has made over 2000 runs at an average of 44, with six tons and 13 half-centuries, with the majority of his runs coming as an opening bat.
While capable of scoring boundaries, the majority of Watling's runs come from deft glances, well-placed shots and his speed between the wickets.
While recent Black Caps one-day sides have gone for the blunderbuss approach at the top through Brendon McCullum, Jesse Ryder, Martin Guptill and Ross Taylor, Watling is awaiting his chance to show there's more than one way to make a big score.
"There's 50 overs to go about your innings," Watling said.
"It's about finding those singles, finding the gaps, maintaining the strike rate.
"I'm looking forward to another chance in the one-day internationals – I got run out twice in the last two one-dayers I played."
He's also hoping the limited-overs matches will give him a chance to stake a claim for the gloves in the tests. Last week national selection manager Kim Littlejohn said Kruger van Wyk was the incumbent test keeper after performing well against the Proteas, but coach John Wright then said the spot was up for grabs.
"I'll probably get the first chance to prove my ability with the gloves, so I want to get some form and good performances in.
"Kruger did really well versus the best country in the game at the moment – they have a fearsome bowling attack and he proved that he could play against the best."
Watling said he'd watched the Windies in their series against England and was wary of their potential.
"They can perform on the day and have the potential to be very good.
"We'll be well-prepared because we're going to have to be right on our game.
"The two teams aren't renowned for their consistency, so we'll be looking to be the more consistent – we want to come out on top in key situations."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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