Watling stands out amidst bleak Black Caps
MARK GEENTY IN PORT ELIZABETH
It didn't look like much fun, but BJ Watling insisted it was his favourite place in the world, defying Dale Steyn and company on their own turf.
The New Zealand wicketkeeper confirmed himself as the batting success story of a bleak South African tour, with a double of 63 and 41 not out on day three of the second cricket test.
He and fellow in-form batsman Dean Brownlie (44 not out) guided New Zealand to 157-4 in their second innings, following on in the wake of 121 all out in reply to South Africa's 525-8 declared.
Watling batted 211 minutes for 42 in the second innings of the first test at Newlands, and said he was enjoying taking the searing heat from Steyn, Morne Morkel and the recalled Rory Kleinveldt.
"It was a tough day out there but I thoroughly enjoyed it at the same time," said Watling, playing his 10th test.
''There's no place you'd rather be. You're out there against the best and it's how you learn and how you get better. It's great fun."
It seems a hopeless cause with New Zealand still 247 behind but Watling said he and Brownlie were prepared to scrap hard on day four.
"It's a little bit variable and there's a few staying quite low. There's a few that popped up at the end but it's still a reasonable track. If we keep fighting away tomorrow morning and if we keep wearing them out..."
Earlier, Watling lifted New Zealand from a dire 62-9, and threatening the lowest first innings score at St George's Park, the 84 South Africa scored against England in 1889.
He and Trent Boult added 59 for the 10th wicket, a record for New Zealand against South Africa, as Watling cracked 13 fours in his 63 off 87 balls.
"There was definitely a shift to try and get as many runs as possible with Boulty there. He got himself in and looked really solid as well and played some nice shots. I had plenty of confidence in Trent and I was able to play my game and I relied on him to not get out and he did a great job."
Meanwhile, Steyn admitted it was hard work in the afternoon after taking 5-17 in the morning, his 19th test five-wicket bag.
"The ball swung a bit this morning,'' he said.
''We bowled beautifully from both ends. We were against the back-end batters, Bracewell, Patel, Wagner so we're expecting them to go out and score heaps of runs.".
In the second innings Steyn had 0-41 off 13.
"My legs have bloody blown.'' the bowler said.
''If you want to win test matches you've got to take 20 wickets and it so happened we decided to enforce the follow and put them under pressure.
"This was the best day to bat on. We would have loved six or seven but to have them four down, we're quite happy with that."
Which batting pair would be best at opening in ODIs for the Black Caps?