We hate nightwatchmen because we think it’s just a habit. A thoughtless habit borne of tradition.
The idea is that if a wicket falls near the end of the day, you put in a lower-order batsman to protect the proper batsman from the strike and martyr himself if there’s a magic delivery. (‘Wand for Mr Anderson!’.)
It’s stupid though. If anyone’s qualified to see off the bowling, it’s the batsmen themselves and a magic delivery to a lower order batsman might be a simple leave for an opener.
Today‘s example was particularly moronic. James Anderson came in to bat out the day. He succeeded, but he was totally ill-equipped to protect the batsman at the other end, which was surely half the point. In reality Michael Vaughan would have needed to protect James Anderson from Muttiah Muralitharan on what was virtually a fifth day pitch and he’d have been best off protecting him from Vaas and Malinga operating with a brand new ball as well.
We reckon the nightwatchman fails roughly half the time.