BJ Watling holds tight to his one-day dreams

BEN STANLEY
Last updated 05:00 19/01/2014
BJ Watling
Photosport
MR CONSISTENT: BJ Watling raises his bat for yet another half century.

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Test wicketkeeper BJ Watling still harbours dreams of playing for New Zealand in one-day cricket, despite falling out of favour with the selectors.

Watling has played 22 one-day internationals for New Zealand since his debut against Sri Lanka in August 2010, scoring 528 runs and averaging 29.33 with the bat.

He enjoyed a sustained run in the Black Caps one-day line-up last summer, but has now been displaced by former Australian international Luke Ronchi in the coaching set-up's thinking as the team's gloveman.

Watling remains determined to win a spot back in the one-day side. "I definitely want to play one-day cricket for New Zealand again," he said. "I've got some things to work on - from the selectors and coaches. It's about putting that into practice, and trying to find my role as a one-day player. I've definitely got a dream to try and get back in there."

Watling's average of 29.33 is hardly earth-shattering, but consider the split in his batting when he does, and doesn't, wear the wicketkeeping gloves.

As a wicketkeeper, the 28-year-old averages 57.5 (in 7 games) in one-dayers, while averaging just 15.75 without the gloves. Granted, they are small sample sizes - but his average as a keeper is worth bearing in mind when compared to Ronchi's struggles since his debut against England at Lord's last May.

Ronchi has scored only 166 runs for New Zealand at a paltry 15.09. However, the Black Caps are persisting with the Wellingtonian, and coach Mike Hesson is understood to be a big supporter of the power potential Ronchi brings to his batting game.

Watling agreed his strike-rate in one-day cricket hasn't helped his chances in the Black Caps.

"Strike-rate, looking to find the gaps more and trying to tick over the singles against spinners in the middle overs of an innings [are what I need to work on]," he said.

"Things like that, with the modern one-day game, are things where I have to improve."

Though his highest scores have come batting down the order - his usual spot for Northern Districts - Watling is open to any spot for New Zealand, if he manages to usurp Ronchi.

"I'm comfortable batting anywhere," he said. "I enjoy batting in the middle for the Twenty 20s - but I'd like to bat higher for ND in the one-dayers, and look to get a bit more time at the crease."

Watling will line up against India - who start their one-day series against the Black Caps in Napier today - in a two-match test series starting in Auckland on February 6.

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Watling said the present Indian side were still one to fear. "I've been watching Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara and Shikhar Dhawan and they're in some pretty serious nick," he said.

"They've definitely got some guys that are scoring plenty of runs . . . it's a very daunting line-up."

- © Fairfax NZ News

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