BJ Watling announced his retirement from all forms of cricket at the end of New Zealand's upcoming Test tour of England, including the World Test Championship final against India, which is scheduled to be played from June 18 to 22 in Southampton. The 35-year-old has been a constant in New Zealand's Test cricket landscape and has played an insurmountable amount of cricket with Neil Wagner - another Test specialist who has been a rock for the side over the years.
On Watling's retirement, Wagner stated that the former has been the glue and the gel of the team and he has always appreciated his honesty. "He's a top man and will be sorely missed in this team. He's the glue and the gel of the team and has been around for a long time now," Wagner told ESPN Cricinfo.
"I've always appreciated his honesty. He's one of the guys who puts me back in line if need be, but will also encourage you and pick you up on the tough days. He's always been there for me, whether for plans or ideas. No matter how tired he is, he will sprint from the keeping side, run all the way to your mark to have a chat with you with a couple of plans. He's been a class performer for this team and he's always seen to be the guy that has done the nitty-gritty sort of stuff well and encourages people like myself and everyone around the team."
Recently, the likes of Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, and Ravichandran Ashwin have referred to the World Test Championship final as a World Cup for them and Wagner tends to agree with that assessment.
"Yeah, it is like a World Cup final for me. The biggest disappointment, I guess, in my career is that I've never really played a white-ball game for New Zealand or never been able to crack into the T20 or the one-day game. That ship has probably sailed now and I don't think the opportunity will ever come. For me now, it's about putting all my focus and energy into Test cricket and to be able to play in a World Test Championship final is like a World Cup for me.
"I know this final is the first and there isn't a lot of history around it, but it's the start of something that's pretty big. To play in a one-off Test final against India - one of the best teams in the world, if not the best team in the world - to be able to test yourself against the best on the highest and biggest stage, that's what it's about. It's extremely exciting, but I don't want to think too far ahead. Don't want to let the occasion get to you, just treat it like another Test match and do the same things you do. It's definitely going to be a special occasion. That's for sure," the Northern District bowler added.