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What is a night-watchman?

James Anderson takes evasive action against Australia in 2009
James Anderson has become England's regular night-watchman

You will often see them jumping around the crease when a wicket goes down near the end of a day's play in Test cricket.

But who are the night-watchmen and what are they supposed to do?


When a recognised batsman loses their wicket near the end of the day's play, the batting team will usually send in a non-specialist batsman to see out the rest the overs.

The idea is to protect the next recognised batsman for the next day's play, rather than run the risk of losing another batsman on that same evening.

Even though the recognised batsman is the better player, the conditions late in the day (fading light and creeping shadows) means their wicket is more at risk.

The team will want their better batsmen to make the most of the morning conditions, rather than at the end of day's play.


Normally it is one of the bowlers with a decent defensive technique. This is important as they will get a lot of testing deliveries at a very crucial stage of the day.

Usually, the night-watchmen will receive some short-pitched bowling to rough them up and force them to play a false stroke.


The job is to keep their wicket intact rather than smash boundaries for the runs.

Good judgement is very important - the night-watchman will have to leave the ball outside off-stump.

A good, solid defence goes without saying and the ability to take a few sharp blows from the opponents' pace bowlers also helps.

Assuming they have survived the night before, the night-watchman has done their job.


If they hang around in the morning session, they can frustrate the bowling side who will be looking to dismiss them early in the day.

Pakistani Nasim-ul-Ghani is the first night-watchman to hit a ton, scoring 101 against England at Lord's in 1962.

Australia's Tony Mann was the second when he scored 108 against India at Perth in 1977.

Compatriot Jason Gillespie joined the exclusive group when he notched his maiden Test century against Bangladesh in Chittagong.

Former England fast bowler Alex Tudor almost reached three figures against New Zealand in 1999.

His 99 not out helped his side to a seven-wicket victory at Edgbaston.

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