It was a glorious moment for the 27-year-old debutant when he scored his maiden Test hundred in front of his home crowd, at the Basin Reserve. By doing so, he entered an elite group of wicket-keeper batsmen who’ve scored a century on debut.
Tom Blundell’s 2017 came a full circle when he was incorporated into the New Zealand Test squad for the current two-match Test series against the touring West Indies. Around eleven months back, Tom Blundell made his T20I debut when he stood in for an injured Luke Ronchi in a match against Bangladesh. It was a rather bizarre international debut as Blundell, No. 7, was denied a chance to bat and couldn’t do much behind wickets either. In under a week’s time, he was added to the ODI squad for the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy.
November 2017 With Watling’s unavailability due to a hip injury, the New Zealand selectors chose to bestow a Test call-up on the wicket-keeper batsman from Wellington. Coach Mike Hesson and the selectors pressed on Blundell’s latest performances in consecutive seasons of the Plunkett Shield as the biggest reasons for his selection. They branded him as a consistent wicket-keeper and an unfailing batsman. To quote Mike Hesson, “He’s confident, but he’s quite quiet and just goes about his work. He certainly knows this week his job is to lead the fielding unit as well in terms of standards.” Quite an augmentation to Hesson’s anticipation was channeled into reality when the right-hander led the lower-order batting on his Test debut. He took New Zealand to a more towering position and set new records in the process.
December 2017 Blundell received his Test Cap on 1st December, Day 1 of the 1st Test Match between New Zealand and West Indies. He came down to bat on Day 2 when New Zealand were 281 for the loss of six wickets, leading by 147 runs. From there, he put up a stellar partnership of 148 runs with Colin de Grandhomme. The latter stole the show with his blistering 71-ball hundred, second fastest by a New Zealand batsman, and Blundell’s contribution was a more careful 83-ball fifty. The next two wickets fell quickly and Trent Boult, the last man in, came down to bat when New Zealand was ahead by a whopping 308; Blundell was on 55 off 95.
By the course of the next 23 overs and into Day 3, Blundell put effort into maneuvring his innings with some well-crafted shots with a more cautious Trent Boult backing him. Although the latter contributed only 18 runs in the 78-run partnership, he was well lauded for his hints of defense throughout the 60 deliveries that he faced. Blundell metamorphosed his fifty into a fine hundred, albeit he staggered long in his nineties, that came off Chase’s 28th over. He raised his bat after a ‘Sturm und Drang’ saga of 40 deliveries came to an end. It was the first instance of a wicket-keeper batsman from New Zealand to score a hundred on Test debut. New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson having given the debutant carte blanche to score a well-deserved ton declared the innings soon after that. The total on the board was 520 for 9, that meant a deficit of 386 runs for the West Indies.
The bijou list:
- DSBP Kuruppu(SL) : 201* vs NZ, at Colombo(CCC). 1987.
- RS Kaluwitharana(SL): 132* vs AUS, at Colombo(SSC). 1992.
- MJ Prior(ENG): 126* vs WI, at Lord’s. 2007.
- TA Blundell(NZ): 107* vs WI, at Basin Reserve.
Scorecard (At Stumps, Day 3): West Indies 134 & 214 for 2*(Brathwaite 79*, Hetmyer 66, Hope 21*) trailing by 172 runs, and New Zealand 520 for 9(dec).