Photo Credit: New Zealand Cricket
Northern Districts Cricket has today announced that former Northern Districts and BLACKCAPS star BJ Watling will take up the role of Head Coach of the ND men’s side following the completion of the 2022/23 season.
The former wicketkeeper-batsman will take over from former teammate Graeme Aldridge who is moving into a bowling support role for New Zealand Cricket, after 25 years’ service to Northern Districts as a player and coach.
“I’m extremely excited to take on this role,” said Watling.
“ND has played a huge part in my playing career, and I’m looking forward to continuing my journey with the Association as a coach.”
Watling’s 16-year playing career saw him make 243 appearances for Northern Districts across all formats.
Following his retirement from all cricket in 2021, he spent time coaching the Northern Districts A side before moving to Wellington as Head Coach of the Wellington Firebirds in white-ball side only, and assistant coach in the Plunket Shield.
“I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Wellington.
“I was fortunate to have a supportive and welcoming group of players and staff and will always be grateful for the opportunity.
“’G’ [Aldridge’s nickname] has left some big shoes to fill, and I look forward to that challenge, and adding my own value along the way. ND has certainly been leaders on and off the field for a number of years and I’m extremely proud to be able to play my part now.
“With a number of BLACKCAPS and talented up and coming cricketers, it’s an exciting time for the group as we look to continue to build on the success over recent years.”
Northern Districts GM High Performance, Ian Sandbrook led the local tributes for outgoing coach Aldridge, noting the huge contribution he has made in his three years as head coach.
“G has been instrumental in shaping an environment and programme that has helped players progress and fostered a team first mentality that has enabled the team to secure back-to-back Dream11 Super Smash titles.
“He leaves us with a great platform for BJ to work from and we can’t thank him enough. I know I speak for all the staff and players in wishing him all the best in his new role with NZC and he will be missed.”
Sandbrook confirmed that Watling was the standout candidate after a thorough and competitive appointment process.
“We believe BJ has the skills, experience and characteristics to take our men’s performance programme forward. He knows and understands our playing group and what it means to represent ND,” said Sandbrook.
“He also has impressive clarity on how we can continue to remain at the forefront of player development and consistently perform across all formats.”
“We know BJ will bring a great freshness, drive and competitiveness, and we cannot wait to start working with him.”