In the game of cricket, a nightwatchman refers to a tailender who is promoted up the batting order when a wicket falls near the end of the day's play. This is ostensibly done to "protect" one of the specialist batters. The rationales for this include:
- Batting conditions may be poor at the end of the day, due to poor light, or a fatigued batter.
- The small amount of time left in the day provides little opportunity to score a lot of runs, but ample opportunity to get out.
- Batters are vulnerable at the start of their innings, and when a wicket falls near the end of a day's play, the incoming batter will probably have to start their innings a second time when play resumes on the next day.
- Cricket is designed and run by batters, and they organise things to suit themselves.
The main risk of using a nightwatchman is that the nightwatchman may get out immediately, thus leaving the team with the same problem they started with, but now with one less tailender. Also, using a nightwatchman shortens the tail, making it more likely that one of the specialist batters will be stranded without a partner.