BLACK Caps wicketkeeper BJ Watling says survival against South Africa in the second Test will be as much a mental game as it is a physical challenge.
After taking less than three days to lose last week’s disastrous first Test in Cape Town by an innings and 27 runs, the New Zealanders are desperate to show more fight in Port Elizabeth when the second and final Test begins late on Friday (AEDT).
Key to that, Watling says, will be focus and flexibility when it comes to spending time at the crease.
“It’s definitely a mental game out there – you’ve got to adjust to what the conditions are,” he said.
“It’s just about recognising what’s going on out there and figuring out ways to score.
“It might not bounce as much, you might have to play off the front foot a little bit more, you’ve just got to be adaptable and figure out new ways.”
Watling was out for a golden duck at Cape Town as the Black Caps were dismissed with embarrassing ease for 45 after winning the toss, but was happier with his second innings effort in reaching 42.
Most satisfying was being able to spend time facing South Africa’s in-form pace attack of Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander.
“Those three are pretty demanding, and they asked a lot of questions. It’s quite relentless, and you’ve also got Kallis coming on and he’s up there as well, so it’s definitely a challenge,” he said.
South Africa-born Watling spent over three hours in reaching his second-innings 42, and says that time in the middle did a lot to rebuild his confidence.
“Especially after getting out first ball in the first innings – you do doubt yourself a bit, so now it’s about getting in the challenge and finding your way of how you’re going to achieve something.
“For me it was just finding my defensive pattern and getting under the ball, figuring out those solid positions to get me going.
“There’s a little bit of confidence there, I definitely believe I can do it. It’s just about doing it now, and doing it for longer.”