BJ Watling sets batting record as New Zealand turn screws on England

By David Charlesworth, PA, Mount Maunganui

BJ Watling’s double hundred and Mitch Santner’s maiden international century ground England into submission as New Zealand assumed total dominance of the first Test.

England were dutiful in their approach at Mount Maunganui but a tactic of drying up the runs had no impact on the wickets column as Watling and Santner waited them out in an attritional morning session bringing only 58 runs.

As England wilted in the afternoon, Watling and Santner cashed in and had Test bests by the time their 261-run partnership – a New Zealand record for the seventh wicket – was ended with the only breakthrough thus far on day four.

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While Santner holed out for 126, Watling went to 205 – the highest score by a New Zealand wicketkeeper – before being caught behind off Jofra Archer as New Zealand declared on 615 for nine and a first-innings lead of 262.

New Zealand’s Mitchell Santner, left, is congratulated by teammate BJ Watling after scoring his century (Mark Baker/AP)
New Zealand’s Mitchell Santner, left, is congratulated by teammate BJ Watling after scoring his century (Mark Baker/AP)

England were set the task of batting out the best part of four sessions, with 28 overs facing them on day four, if they were to escape to Hamilton with a draw.

Their task was made all the more burdensome by being kept in the field for 201 overs, thanks largely to a dogged Watling.

New Zealand’s keeper-batsman described himself as “very limited” after his century yesterday but there were few signs of that with a series of eye-catching strokes square of the wicket, off front and back foot.

Santner, meanwhile, upped the tempo considerably this afternoon, clubbing Jack Leach for three straight sixes before taking Sam Curran the distance over midwicket.

Santner was troubled by a bumper barrage on Saturday evening but England went noticeably fuller to the left-hander on the fourth morning, with Archer pointedly opening the bowling after not doing so on Saturday.

BJ Watling on his way to his double century (Mark Baker/AP)
BJ Watling on his way to his double century (Mark Baker/AP)

Archer’s second ball was squirted away through gully for four by Watling before the paceman sent down five successive maidens as England sought to turn the screws.

The plan almost paid off as Santner wafted at an equally frugal Broad only for the edge to carry over the slips. England were feeding on scraps as the third new ball came and went without any alarms.

Watling was unable to duck out of the way of an Archer bumper and was clattered in the back of the helmet, but he ended the session by cutting the bowler for four.

That sign of aggression was a precursor to a more ambitious approach in the afternoon, Watling uppercutting Archer for six before Santner got in on the act with three maximums in as many overs off Leach.

The third took him to 97 before he reached three figures for the first time in Tests by scampering a couple after glancing Stokes fine.

Santner eventually perished after lofting Sam Curran to long-on.

Watling had clipped Joe Root tantalisingly out of reach of Stuart Broad at square-leg before bringing up his double ton on the stroke of tea.

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