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Watling pleased by record with 'good friend' Southee

Tim Southee and BJ Watling are New Zealand's most successful bowler-catcher combination Getty Images

When Shakib Al Hasan was caught behind on the first day of the Christchurch Test, it was the 44th time BJ Watling - as wicketkeeper - and Tim Southee had combined to effect a dismissal, breaking the New Zealand record that had belonged to Richard Hadlee and Ian Smith.

Their overall tally is actually 46, with Watling having taken two catches as a fielder off Southee, against Australia at Seddon Park in 2010.

It's not easy to draw emotion from Watling, but he looked pleased at the mention of the record shared with Southee.

"I quite like that stat," Watling told ESPNcricinfo. "It is quite a cool one. I am quite good mates with Tim. It is just a pretty friendly sort of a stat. It is good to achieve with a good friend in the team.

"I have got a good relationship with all the bowlers. As a keeper, you are trying to give as much feedback from behind the stumps. I get a feel for what the pitch is doing, what sort of lengths to bowl on certain wickets. Talking to boys to make sure we are on the same wavelengths and trying to figure out ways to win games. It is an important role as a keeper to have that communication with the bowlers."

On television, however, Watling is not conspicuous, unlike some of the other more vociferous wicketkeepers. It does not faze him. "That's fine with me. I think the general chat about a keeper is that if you are not noticed, you are doing your job all right."

He's like the drummer of a band, a vital part of the spine of the New Zealand Test side but often behind the lead performers. Having made his debut in December 2009, Watling is playing his 49th Test. He has 160 dismissals, six hundreds, and has been part of two triple-century and double-century partnerships.

"I am generally pretty quiet guy," Watling said. "I like to do things with action rather than words. Staying positive as a keeper, geeing the boys up and making sure you set standard in the field; I like to go up to them at the end of the over with a good yarn."

Watling said he takes pride in getting New Zealand out of tight spots, like he did with the two 300-run stands against India in 2014 and Sri Lanka the following year.

"I have obviously tried to contribute with the bat and make sure that I do a job with the gloves as well. There were couple of situations where we wanted to keep fighting and we didn't want to fold," Watling said of the 300-run stands. "The series was on the line in those two games as well. Those are the things that you play for. You are always trying to score runs. Those two innings are pretty special for me."

There's always a temptation to glance at the hands of a wicketkeeper. Ian Healy's battered pair has been shown on television numerous times. So how are Watling's fingers after years of keeping to fast bowlers in seaming conditions?

"My hands are pretty good. I don't have any finger issues," he said. "Couple of little bruises here and there. It is mainly the legs and the quads, which I make sure are looked after."

Southee, after his five-wicket haul in the first innings against Bangladesh in Christchurch, acknowledged Watling's contribution to his success.

"Obviously BJ and I have had a combination for a while now and it is nice as a bowler, knowing that you've got a good keeper behind the stumps and someone that grabs most things and does a great job," Southee said. "It's a good combination. It's one of those milestones along the way that are nice to have."

Watling wouldn't call himself a perfectionist but said he takes pains to not let his team-mates down. "You always have pride in what you do. You want to take every chance you get, be as tidy as you can. That's generally because you don't want to let the boys down. There's no worse feeling than dropping catches in cricket."

In December 2015, Watling was written about as an accountant among rock stars, a description that sat well with him but one he did not want to elaborate on, in keeping with his humble but strong character who would rather collect a cricket ball properly more than anything else on the field.

"I am obviously getting a bit older and mature. I guess I am seen as a leader within this group, and just trying to get the best out of the bowling group and fielding unit is my job," he said. "Keep scoring some runs and contributing that way."

He does it regularly without anyone noticing. The way he likes it.