The one left-field pick in New Zealand's ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2019 squad, announced on Wednesday, 3 April, is Tom Blundell, the wicket-keeper batsman. Here's a primer on him.
Give me the basics
Blundell, 28, is a wicket-keeper batsman who represents the Wellington team – also the city of his birth. He has played two Tests and three Twenty20 Internationals for New Zealand, but is uncapped in one-day internationals.
So he's not a complete newbie to the international stage ...
No, he's not. He made his international debut back in January 2017, in a T20I against Bangladesh. He earned a call-up to the ODI squad for matches against Australia, but didn't get a game. And then, he made a century on Test debut at the end of the year, with 107* from No.8 against the West Indies at his home ground, in an innings victory.
What do you do after scoring a century on debut to help win a Test for your country?— BLACKCAPS (@BLACKCAPS) December 4, 2017
Walk home in your whites carrying a match stump & get caught by the team van ... of course 😂@TomBlundellNZ - you’re a beaut 👌 pic.twitter.com/epb2zo55p5
That's a great start! So why was he a surprise choice for the World Cup squad?
For one, Blundell is still uncapped in ODIs. So, should he make it to the playing XI, he'll join the rare group of players to make their debut at the premier cricket tournament.
Second, he hasn't been the team's automatic second-choice wicket-keeper behind Tom Latham. Tim Seifert is usually the one providing back-up, but unfortunately, he was ruled out with a finger injury.
What was his rise up the ranks like?
Blundell was a part of the New Zealand squad for the ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup 2010. He played one match, alongside the likes of Jimmy Neesham and Tom Latham, who are also on the 2019 squad, taking on England, who had Joe Root, Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes.
He made his first-class debut in 2013, and enjoyed a break-out season in 2016-17, where he was sixth on the list of top scorers in the Plunkett Shield.
His reputation behind the stumps has only grown, and he is seen as a strong fielder as well.
How are his domestic numbers?
He has six hundreds in first-class cricket, averaging 37.74 in 51 matches, but a more modest 23.81 in 40 List A games. He's been responsible for 131 and 41 dismissals respectively in those two formats. He even has one first-class wicket.
He last played a List A game back in October 2018 – it's been his only game in the format since February that year. In his last first-class game at the time of writing, in March this year, he made a half-century and an unbeaten 100, but it came in a losing cause.
In his own words
"I was looking at quite a quiet winter but now it's changed completely. He [coach Gary Stead called and] said 'congratulations, you've made the team' and it was a pretty special moment...I've played two Tests and three T20s and had a taste of international cricket. It's not a biggie. If I do get the chance, I'll enjoy the moment and, hopefully, it goes well."
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