BJ Watling plays a shot during the third day of the first
cricket test between New Zealand and South Africa in Cape
Town. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings
It was a case of duck, bob and weave as New Zealand set
about trying to be competitive with the bat in this week's
second test against South Africa at Port Elizabeth.
Having talked about ways of making life uncomfortable for the
batsmen ahead of their giant task to become competitive,
their bowlers ramped up the heat at Newlands yesterday.
The bouncers were flying and the batsmen had their mettle
The question is how much benefit they will get ahead of
squaring off against Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and - if he is
over his latest hamstring drama - Vernon Philander, the best
seam team in the business.
Captain Brendon McCullum was forced to take rapid evasive
action more than once as New Zealand's fast-medium bowlers
cranked up the heat.
Both Neil Wagner and Mitchell McClenaghan, who missed the
first test, impressed after the first test seamers had gone
through their paces.
If you look for omens out of practice sessions, the fact that
the entire test attack from the innings and 27-run loss
inside three days got first bowling dibs while Wagner and
McClenaghan had to bide their time sitting on the ground
might give food for thought.
The other all-too-obvious aspect of the batting was that
spinner Jeetan Patel was all at sea against the faster
bowlers. He had the jitters against the speedster Steyn on
the third and final day of the first test.
He looks as if he's lost his nerve against the short-pitched
By contrast, wicketkeeper BJ Watling was among the more
impressive batsmen in the first test, his gritty 42 in 211
minutes, and off 151 balls was a pretty resolute hand.
"We know what we're up against now," Watling said.
"Definitely there was a noticeable lift in intensity, and
we're looking to be better for it."
Watling had a longer look at the South African attack than
all bar century-maker Dean Brownlie. He had scored a
first-ball duck in the first innings and admitted at times
like that ''you do doubt yourself a bit".
"It's about getting in the challenge and finding a way to
achieve something," the 27-year-old Northern Districts
"For me it's about finding my defensive patterns, getting
under the ball and figuring out solid positions to get me
"Obviously in the next test we might need runs a bit quicker
and you have to find positions where going to pick them up."
Watling did give himself a confidence boost with his second
innings but knows he needs a lot more.
Three days after the second test starts, Australian returnee
Luke Ronchi becomes eligible to play for the country of his
He is rated by knowledgeable observers as the best allround
wicketkeeper-batsmen in the country.
So having overtaken Kruger van Wyk for this trip, Watling
needs to be on his mettle for future challenges.
''There's a little bit of confidence there. I definitely
believe I can do it; it's just about doing it, and for longer
again," he said of his batting effort.
''Hopefully I can keep improving with gloves, doing a good
job there and I need to get more runs than I did in that
test. It's a lift I need to get to."
In nine tests, he is averaging 28.71, but if he is to stay at
No 6 in the batting order, that's got to rise, especially if
Ronchi is on his tail and in the selectors' thinking.
- David Leggat of the NZ Herald in Cape Town