Cricket is known for its complex rules and peculiar tactics that makes the game standout given its dynamic nature where it isn’t always easy to comprehend for the unversed.

Over the decades, the game of cricket has evolved, giving rise to plenty of unique roles in order to adapt and adjust to the state of play on the field.

Interesting match situations have given rise to plenty of innovative ideas, which have over the years developed into cricketing traditions.

These innovative use of out-of-the-box tactics exists in all formats of cricket, whether that is Test or limited-overs.

For instance, limited-overs cricket often witnesses pinch hitters being sent into bat with the hope of accelerating the scoring rate. 

The batter who is the designated pinch hitter, of course, isn’t usually known for his batting prowess and are sometimes even considered sloggers.

However, their promotion to the top or middle of the order doesn’t come on the basis of their batting credentials, but rather is a calculated gamble where teams hope that the pinch hitter can get them a few runs at a rapid rate, thereby putting his side ahead in the game.

Similarly, the Test game has a unique role in itself where batting merit is trumped by the match situation and as a result, lower-order players - mostly bowlers - get promoted up the order as a nightwatchman

Here we take a closer look at what exactly is the meaning of a Nightwatchman in Cricket

Nightwatchman in Cricket

A nightwatchman in cricket is someone, usually a lower order batter or more likely bowler, who comes out to bat way before he is required going by the batting order.

The reason behind this is to help his team see out play to the end of stumps without losing any more wickets. 

As a result, a nightwatchman is always deployed towards the end of a day’s play with the hope of preserving the wicket of a more competent batter who could start afresh on the following day.

While they are not expected to contribute massively with the bat, a nightwatchman is expected to close out the day’s play with his wicket intact, thereby protecting the genuine batters in the lineup who might be tired after three gruelling sessions.

A nightwatchman is instructed to play safe and defensive by their captains with the intent of accumulating as many balls as possible to prevent further wickets from falling.

Should a nightwatchman make it through the end of the day’s play, he is encouraged to continue carrying on his innings for as long as possible instead of merely giving his wicket away cheaply at the start of a new day.

Having said that, a nightwatchman who comes into bat at the start of the new day doesn’t generally tend to last long on the following day. 

Furthermore, the nightwatchman experiment may not always pay off as they can also succumb soon after coming in before the close of play, thereby rendering the tactic a failure.  

All things considered, the nightwatchman tradition has become a part of the fabric of Test cricket and is likely to stay for decades to come.

Lest we forget, the several memorable nightwatchman knocks that left the cricketing world stunned. 

The most famous of which will always perhaps be Australia’s Jason Gillespie’s unbeaten 201 against Bangladesh at Chittagong in 2006.

His knock helped Australia win the Test and also gave him the distinction of being a double centurion in Tests, which is something many more accomplished Test batters may not have achieved in their careers.

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