Wicketkeeper Tom Blundell is set to make his debut in the first Test against West Indies on December 1. With BJ Watling unavailable due to a hip injury, Blundell will be drafted into New Zealand’s XI to play in front of his hometown fans at the Basin Reserve. Pace bowler Lockie Ferguson, too, joined the squad as cover for Tim Southee, who is expecting the birth of his child.
Selector Gavin Larsen said Blundell’s improvement with the gloves over the past year has earned him a promotion. Less than two weeks ago, he picked up 10 catches in Wellington’s victory over Canterbury in the Plunket Shield.
New Zealand’s coach Mike Hesson has also lauded Blundell’s consistency – both with the gloves and the bat – over the past two seasons in the Plunket Shield, and backed him to chip in with significant performances on his Test debut.
Hesson further added that even though Blundell carries a relatively reserved demeanour for a wicketkeeper, he is confident the 27-year old’s prior acquaintance with the New Zealand players will help him communicate effectively from behind the stumps.
Southee, however, is not ruled out of the opening Test, and Larsen said that Ferguson, who picked up 12 wickets despite a thumb fracture earlier this month, was drafted into the squad only as a back-up.
New Zealand squad
Kane Williamson (capt), Trent Boult, Colin de Grandhomme, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Jeet Raval, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee (subject to availability), Ross Taylor, Neil Wagner, Lockie Ferguson, Tom Blundell (wk