Kiwi Blundell returns to English cricket - but on a very different stage

Tom Blundell is no stranger to English conditions as he prepares to make his mark for New Zealand at the Cricket World Cup

Tom Blundell’s call-up to the New Zealand squad may have come as something of a surprise but now he’s here, the wicket-keeper has some inside knowledge he plans on using to his advantage.

Blundell has never played an ODI for his country and had only played one competitive List A game since February 2018 when he was named in the Black Caps squad for the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019 last month.

Included as a back-up gloveman, Tom Latham’s finger injury means the 28-year-old could well be starting New Zealand’s first game of the tournament against Sri Lanka on Saturday June 1.

He’s not a novice when it comes to English conditions however, enjoying a two-season spell with Colchester & East Essex CC between 2012 and 2013, although his return to the country will see the stakes being considerably higher.

“I’ve had a couple of club seasons in England about six years ago,” explained Latham. “I played in Essex for Colchester, so I’ve had a bit of a taste of the English culture.

“They just love cricket, so it’s great to be here. Conditions are maybe a little bit different than back home and the ball maybe does a little bit more but it’s pretty similar.

“My call-up was a little bit of a surprise but a really welcome one. I’m looking forward to getting stuck in and it has already been a great few days over here.

“I’ve always kept in touch with the selectors and they said ‘just keep doing your thing’ and you never know. Luckily for me, I got the nod.

“The aim was to break into the ODI team. I was in the Chappell-Hadlee [ODI trophy played for by Australia and New Zealand] squad a few years ago but didn’t get a game, so it would be great to tick this one off and have all three formats to my name.”

As Blundell intimates, he does have two Test appearances and three T20I caps already, although the last of those came 15 months ago.

And the Wellington native is excited to be part of a squad hoping to go one better than 2015 – when they played superbly to reach the World Cup final but ultimately fell to a seven-wicket defeat at the hands of Australia.

“We’re very excited to get going – the World Cup has been a long time coming,” added Blundell. “I think we’ve got the squad to push the best teams in the world.

“It’s a great environment to be a part of and there are so many great players in the dressing room.

“I think if we can go one better than the last World Cup – that would be a success! I think we can do it but it’s going to be tough because there are quality teams.

“It’s a tough format playing every team once – you can’t really have a slow start. The first three games are going to be crucial and they are must-win really, so it’s going to be exciting.”