If you take out all the Test matches involving New Zealand, BJ Watling’s Test record is actually nothing to write home about.
This is what you have to do though. This is what you have to do because otherwise BJ Watling appears really high up in all sorts of statistical lists that rank wicketkeeper-batsmen.
The idea that New Zealand’s current wicketkeeper is among the greatest of all time is jarring to say the least, because no-one’s really been paying any attention to him – yet only a handful average more than Watling and only Adam Gilchrist and Andy Flower have made more hundreds.
‘How can this be?’ people think. ‘What about, um, Dhoni?’
Well Test cricket wasn’t really Dhoni’s big format, was it?
‘What about Kumar Sangakkara then? Or Alec Stewart?
And here we get to the nub of things: a number of players who people think of as great wicketkeeper-batsmen made most of their runs playing as specialist batsmen.
Alec Stewart made 15 Test hundreds, but only six as a wicketkeeper. He averaged 46.70 as a specialist batsman and 34.92 as a wicketkeeper.
Kumar Sangakkara made (sweet mother of God) 38 Test hundreds, but only seven of these were when playing as a wicketkeeper. He averaged a highly impressive 40.48 as a wicketkeeper but an outright ludicrous 66.78 as a specialist batsman.
Moral of the story: combining batting and keeping is actually an extremely hard thing to do indeed.
So you’re left with two choices:
- Confront the fact that BJ Watling is an unusually productive wicketkeeper-batsman and come to terms with it
- Remove all of the matches involving New Zealand from his record