World Test Championship final: 'Hell of a journey' - Retiring Blackcaps wicketkeeper BJ Watling bids farewell on top of world

Retiring veteran wicketkeeper BJ Watling has bid the ideal farewell to cricket, after the Blackcaps lifted the prized mace in the inaugural World Test Championship final against India.

Last month, the 35-year-old announced he'd hang up his gloves for good after the Southampton showpiece, ending a celebrated career as the most-capped Kiwi gloveman ever, and one of New Zealand's grittiest and most determined batsmen.

He even had time for one final piece of trademark toughness from Watling on the final day, suffering a dislocated finger, when he caught a throw from captain Kane Williamson.

Back-up keepers Tom Latham and Tom Blundell were on hand to fill in if needed, but Watling was never going to give up his gloves in his 75th and final test, as the Blackcaps ensured a swansong for the ages.

Watling has his dislocated finger attended to.
Watling has his dislocated finger attended to. Photo credit: Getty

"Pretty ecstatic, to be honest," says Watling, who led the team out on the pitch for his final stint behind the stumps.

"It's been a lot of hard work over a long period of time for our team as a group and to get over the line like that is pretty special."

Watling has rescued countless NZ innings with his dogged determination and middle-order patience, which have become the trademarks of his batting approach.

Those qualities were on full display through the final afternoon, as Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor rebuilt the Blackcaps innings, after the loss of openers Latham and Devon Conway to guide New Zealand over the line in comfortable fashion.

"I guess chasing a total like that on a wicket that was definitely offering, I just thought it was fantastic by Ross and Kane to finish it off, and pretty special from two of our greatest," he says.

Watling finishes with 3790 test runs to his name at an average of 37.52, highlighted by his 205 against England at Mt Maunganui in 2019 - his top score in tests - which epitomised his temperament as a batsman.

The South African-born Watling paid a parting tribute to his mother, wife and two sons, and saved a special word for his mates in the changing room.

"It's been a hell of a journey," Watling says. "I've had a huge amount of support throughout the years, none more so than from my actual teammates.

"We've got a pretty special group and it's a great way to finish."