A Nightwatchman in cricket is a lower order batsman who is promoted up the order to bat towards the end of a Test match day. The idea behind using a Nightwatchman is to ensure not to lose a batsman’s wicket towards the end of the day.
The players could be tired or the light could be a bit difficult to play under or the conditions could be favouring the bowlers. Hence, the team decides to not risk losing a top order batsman, and sends in a lower order batsman to play out the rest of the day.
The primary objective of a Nightwatchman is to play out the remaining part of the day. Although, there have been some instances in Test cricket when the Nightwatchman has exceeded all expectations. Here’s a list of 5 bowlers who came in as Nightwatchman and performed exceedingly well with the bat.
Bowlers Who Performed Exceeding Well As Nightwatchman
1. Jason Gillespie
Jason Neil Gillespie is a former Australian right arm fast bowler. The bowler who bowled alongside of Glen McGrath and Shane Warne, was also a competent lower order batsman for his team. He finished his career with 142 ODI wickets and 259 wickets in the longest format of the game.
Jason Gillespie’s highest score as a Nightwatchman came against Bangladesh in 2006 playing at Chattogram. He scored an unbeaten 201 from 425 deliveries with 26 fours and 2 sixes in that innings.
It was also the highest score ever by a Nightwatchman. Australia went on to win the match by an innings and 80 runs. Jason Gillespie was selected as the player of the match and the player of the series.
2. Nicky Boje
Nicky Boje is one the most successful Nightwatchman for South Africa. One of his best innings as a Nightwatchman came against India at Bangalore Test in 2000. India had managed to post a small total of 158 in the first innings.
India desperately needed quick South African wickets in the second innings. After Herschelle Gibbs’s departure, Nicky Boje was sent in at number 3 as a Nightwatchman and he engineered a Test career best of 85 during a 161-run stand with Gary Kirsten.
The innings gave a platform for the succeeding batsman to attack and Jacques Kallis, Darryl Cullinan and Lance Klusner all capitalised with a half century. The Proteas completed the 2-match series with an innings and 71-runs victory.
The 1983 Ashes were already decided and going into the Sydney Test Greg Chappell decided to bat first. The Aussies put up a 300 plus total and had a lead of 77 runs by the end of the second innings.
Adding on to the lead, the Aussies left a target of 460 runs for England with 6 hours left in the match. England’s first wicket, Geoff Cook had fallen at 3 and Eddie Hemmings was sent in as the Nightwatchman.
Hemmings held the innings together and built partnerships of 52, 49,51 and 41 as he scored 95 runs and faced 195 balls. He fell 5 runs short of a century, but played a resistant innings full of drives, cuts and pulls. His determinant innings made sure that England managed to hold their fort till the end of the day and see it to a draw.
4. Alex Jeremy Tudor
Tudor was a 6ft 5in right arm fast bowler who played for England from 1998-2002. Tudor’s debut was in the 1998-99 Ashes series, but that Ashes series was one that England would want to forget.
Tudor did manage to impress the selectors and was selected for the series against New Zealand. Batting first, New Zealand scored a total of 226 runs. In the second innings, England had a horrifying start and slipped to a score of 45/7 and ended up with a deficit of more than a hundred.
The England bowlers came out with vengeance in the third innings and wreaked havoc on the Kiwi line up. New Zealand could manage a target just slightly north of a hundred thanks to Andy Caddick’s fifer.
Hussain promoted the paceman Alex Tudor up the order as a Nightwatchman and boy did Tudor respond. Anything slightly outside off was driven or slashed at mercilessly and he also played some great strokes off his legs.
Tudor was joined by Hussain at the strike and the duo were enjoying themselves out there. The duo managed to close in on a sure win before Hussain was dismissed. Alex Tudor could only manage a boundary as he finished the match at an unbeaten 99 and fell one short of a well deserving century.
5. Harold Larwood
He was a professional cricketer who played for Nottinghamshire and England from 1924-1938. He was known for his high speed and great accuracy, and he earned his nickname “The Wrecker” for his bodyline tactics.
In the fourth match of 1932 Ashes series, the Aussies had posted a total of 435 in their first innings. Towards the end of the second day, England lost a wicket and Larwood came in to partner with Hammond.
Larwood was scoring gracefully through most part of the third day and even struck a powerful maximum during his score of 98. He had taken charge of his innings with a wonderful mix of aggression and defence to make the most of his innings.
Australia crumbled in their second innings and with a dominating batting performance, England earned the victory with 8 wickets to go. England went on to win the series by 4-1 and retained the Ashes.