Black Caps keeper BJ Watling looking forward to first pink ball fixture
The Black Caps' inter-squad match in Hamilton next week looms as an important two days for test wicketkeeper BJ Watling.
With the inaugural day-night test against Australia in Adelaide less than two months away, the Thursday-Friday fixture will be Watling's first chance to keep to the controversial pink ball.
"That will be a big part of my preparation in terms of keeping and getting to catch the ball bowled by Trent (Boult), Tim (Southee) and others," Watling said.
"It's mainly about getting some game time with it really and getting a feel for it in a match situation, instead of in the nets or just training."
The 30-year-old gloveman joined several Black Caps and Australian players in expressing apprehension about playing tests at night and using the pink balls when the match, which starts on November 27 and is the third and final test of the series, was confirmed at the end of June.
After next week's inter-squad match, the Black Caps will have just three days of pink ball cricket once they arrive in Australia to prepare for the ground-breaking Adelaide test.
Those three days comprise the tour-opening day-night 50-over match against the Prime Minister's XI in Canberra on October 23 and a two-day match with a Cricket Australia XI at The WACA in Perth between the second and third tests.
"It's just a ball still, but the real test will be coming at night and playing in that twilight time," Watling said.
"We'll learn a lot more before the test obviously, which is still a little while away."
Watling averaged 85 with the bat during the two tests in England in May, lifting his career average to 40.71 after 31 matches and scoring his fifth century in the process.
His time keeping, however, was limited to 27 overs after he tried to stop a Matt Henry delivery on day one of the first test and suffered heavy bruising above his right knee.
Watling said the injury "came good" after two weeks of rehab on returning to New Zealand.
He had been largely doing fitness-based training since then, but had recently got back into cricket-mode.
And while excitement for a rare three-test series against the Aussies in Australia was building, Watling said his initial focus was on Northern Districts' Plunket Shield opener against Wellington on October 15.
"I've started thinking about [the tests series] and trying to train towards that as such, but we've also got a first-class game for ND before we leave.
"At the moment it's trying to get some volume in, some loads outside and get back into the swing of the season."