New Zealand’s BJ Watling created history when he became the first wicket-keeper from his country to register a double hundred in Test cricket. Watling achieved this feat during the first Test of the series versus England at Mount Maunganui. The 34-year-old scored 205 from 473 balls with the help of 24 boundaries and a six. He also featured in a seventh wicket stand of 261 with Mitchell Santner, who also came up with his career-best of 126. New Zealand declared their first innings at 615 for 9 in response to England’s 353. During his wonderful innings, Watling went past former Kiwi skipper Brendon McCullum, whose 185 against Bangladesh at Hamilton in 2010 was the previous best by a wicket-keeper batsman for New Zealand. In the wake of Watling’s record-breaking knock, we do a stats check on the top five wicket-keeper batsmen of this decade (2010-2019).

5. MS Dhoni

Indian legend MS Dhoni has had an incredible limited overs career, but his success in Tests was limited owing to obvious deficiencies in his technique. This is why he is down at number five on the list. Dhoni turned out as wicket-keeper batsman for India in exactly 50 Tests between 2010-2019, and scored 2,700 runs at an average of 36.48 with three hundreds and 17 fifties. Dhoni’s best score was the famous 224 against Australia at Chennai in February 2013. His two other hundreds also came at home — 132 not out against South Africa at Kolkata in February 2010, and 144 against West Indies, also at Kolkata in November 2011. Dhoni failed to reach three figures away from home although he registered 80s at Nottingham and The Oval during the 2014 tour.

4. Matt Prior

One of the reasons England did well as a Test team this decade is because they had Matt Prior taking on opponents at his peak. In 54 Tests, Prior notched up 2,709 runs at an average of 39.26 with five centuries and 17 fifties. Prior’s Test best of 126 came against Sri Lanka at Lord’s in June 2011. He also scored hundreds in Sydney (January 2011) and Auckland (March 2013). He made 91 from 225 balls during the Ahmedabad Test in November 2012 after England were asked to follow-on. Although England lost, Prior’s resolve stood out.

3. Mushfiqur Rahim

The little dynamo from Bangladesh, Mushfiqur Rahim is at number three. In 41 Tests, Rahim has 2,860 runs at an impressive average of 40.85. The veteran keeper-batsman has six hundreds and 12 fifties to his name in this decade. His best score of 219 not out came against Zimbabwe at Dhaka in November 2018. Rahim also scored exactly 200 against Sri Lanka at Galle in March 2013. His versatility can be gauged from the fact that he has scored centuries in Kingston (September 2014), Wellington (January 2017) and Hyderabad (February 2017). Bangladesh are blessed to have him in the team.

2. Jonny Bairstow

England’s wicket-keeper bat Jonny Bairstow is at number two on the list. In 48 Tests as glove-man, Bairstow has 3,028 runs to his credit while averaging 37.85 with five hundreds and 15 fifties. His highest of 167 not out came against Sri Lanka at Lord’s. He smashed an unbeaten 150 at Cape Town (January 2016), 140 at Leeds (May 2016), 119 at Perth (December 2017), and 101 at Christchurch (March 2018). His poor form in Ashes 2019 led to him being dropped for the New Zealand series, before he was kept as cover for injured Joe Denly.

1. BJ Watling

Slowly but effectively, like most New Zealanders do, BJ Watling has made his way to the top of the rather illustrious list. In 56 Tests, Watling has 3,092 runs to his name at an average of 42.94 with seven hundreds and 16 fifties. His best of 205 at Mount Maunganui was preceded by an unbeaten 105 at Colombo in August this year. He has scored hundreds against India and Sri Lanka at Wellington (February 2014 and January 2015). Watling stroked an unbeaten 77 as the Kiwis beat Pakistan at Abu Dhabi in December 2018. Undeniably, Watling is an unsung hero of New Zealand cricket.

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