Friday, March 22, 2019
Updated: Friday, February 20, 2004
All cheers for the Nightwatchman!

G. M. Bashar
Lights bad, the team is tired and precious time left before the end of day. Ominously, Zimbabwe has scooped up a wicket. It?s none other than Hannan, our number one man. What can Bashar do? He needs to save his few specialist batsmen and that?s where a Night Watchman comes in. Bowlers who can ?bat a bit? are unceremoniously chosen as the sacrificial lamb. The main skill and the only one necessary to become a Night Watchman are to be a bowler and show off some handiwork with the bat. Messrs. Tapash, Masrafee and Rafique fit the bill. This evening Tapash will do the honours and his main job is to just stay there for the rest of the day?s play and then next morning. His role depends on the changing circumstances. Quite frankly, he is asked to just ?stay there? and save the spot for the batsman one end.

Now comes the bad news. The Night Watchman, who is not a regular batsman, will be the natural target for the opposition team. They will want to get him as early as possible so that they can have a good start. Psychologically, losing any wicket is bad but losing these at crucial periods such as commencements or terminations of a session really upsets the whole momentum of the batting team. Are Nightwatchman technically equipped to deal with the hostile bowling directed at them? Not in the case of Bangladesh. This ploy could backfire, with the top order player coming in anyway.

On the bright side there have been a lot of good innings from the Night Watchmen. The fellows that manage to stay put are the success stories and they have a story to tell. Shoaib Akhtar in one test between Pakistan and Sri Lanka in 1999, played in Karachi, faced 42 balls and did not even score a single run! Talk about nonchalance. It speaks volumes about causing supreme irritation and disruption to the game. Famous bowlers who have been used as night watchman; Andy Caddick, Shane Warne, Saqlain, Srinath, Kumble, Ambrose; have successfully killed the opposition morale the next morning. In one instance, Alex Tudor of England, scored 99 against New Zealand in 1999 that won the match for them.

The job in hand tomorrow morning is to inflict maximum ?mental anguish?. Hopefully, if Tapash with the help of some cold spray were there by lunch, he would have rattled a few Zimbabwean nerves. Who said test cricket is boring?