Tom Blundell looks a promising young bat. If you were Tom Blundell, one of New Zealand’s many opening batsmen in the modern game, you would be both concerned and optimistic about your future.
That in Guptill and Munro, there’s no dearth of quality and experience would surely bother you. For a batsman who can club nearly every single ball with a magic power, possibly holding the power to put the ball outside the park makes Munro about as dangerous as an in-form Gayle.
Perhaps an overly optimistic analysis of Colin Munro- the man behind 2 T20 hundreds- would be to state that not even an Aaron Finch has exhibited the range of strokes that this former Hockey-specialist has.
But that Munro has no intention of playing Tests and that’s pretty much what Tom Blundell does, apart from appearing in 3 T20s, means there’s surely space for him in New Zealand.
But should that make him utterly optimistic knowing that in someone like a Tom Latham, who’s established himself in the five-day format, played 36 Tests and even struck glitzy knocks in the shorter-format, New Zealand already have a horse for the long steeplechase?
To make one’s place certain in the contemporary New Zealand structure would be thinking daftly. A couple or more cricketing summers ago, there came, out of thin air, an all-round sensation called Corey Anderson, tipped for future greatness.
The last Test or ODI that Anderson, who shot to fame following his mind-boggling record-tumbling ODI ton versus the Windies, played was over a year ago.
Yet, there’s hope for Blundell to go the long way.
In his debut Test, played in December 2017 at Wellington, he hung around for 228 minutes. During this time, he struck 13 boundaries and managed to strike a blow over the ropes. In so doing, Tom Blundell would make the selectors take a note of his technique and skill.
Well, you wouldn’t know how to put it otherwise for a batsman to strike a ton at number 7.
That perfectly answers the fact that Tom Blundell, who recently, against a full-fledged English side top-scored courtesy his fluent 131, is one for the patient game played over five-days.
In an exhibition of immense grit and technical solidity, Blundell resisted the temptation to flirt with the ball wavering outside off. And he also kept countering the likes of Anderson and Broad, the latter generating more movement off the pitch.
That the knock came in March 2018 shouldn’t subdue its relevance for those who are tipping Blundell for possible New Zealand permanence. In that inning, played at Hamilton, Tom Blundell outscored both Raval and Nicholls, as well as the troika of Latham, Guptill as well as Grandhomme.
Not bad for a newbie?
So despite Guptill still hanging around in Tests, as the next most-experienced man since Ross Taylor, New Zealand, an outfit unlike a Pakistan or West Indies that have gravitated toward mostly absorbing youth, would rely every bit on their youth as on the ability of their experienced lot.
Had that not been the case, they may not have persisted with Taylor, who seems to have caught on to the second wind of sorts only in 2018. Had there not been a platform for youth amid the Black Caps’ stable, there may not have been a place for Henry Nicholls, who at 26, has already played 18 Tests and struck 2 hundreds.
Possessing a bright range of strokes that glitter on a relatively forward playing style gives Tom Blundell a chance to carve a place for himself in whatever format he’s placed in.
Youth vs Experience
At least, that is what seems to be the case for a side whose captain, apart from being among the best batters in the world is of the same age as Tom Blundell, who, at 28 has played only 2 Tests as on date. But while arriving in the international contest only in 2017 may not have helped Tom Blundell’s cause a great deal unlike, say, Jeet Raval or Nicholls, both of whom are more visible entities in the side.
But having not even played a handful of Tests but having struck a defining hundred in his very first opportunity could also make New Zealand use Blundell conservatively.
That could or could not mean seeing Tom Blundell in a full-fledged series.
What might concern him, if at all, there’s sense to reflect into numbers is that New Zealand happens to be among the sides that play the least number of Test cricket, a bit like the West Indies and Pakistan.
What’s worse is that the last New Zealand played a full-fledged tournament was around half a year ago. Why the ICC shapes their contests and itinerary like that is something no fan, accustomed to liking a social media post before even reading it – would be able to answer.
Can Tom Blundell go the only-Test way?
What should keep Tom Blundell interested and on the tenterhooks is that New Zealand may want to polish their Test core of batsmen, considering he may not be an automatic choice for the next year’s world cup. To that end, there’s not a single ODI that he’s been made to play in a career that’s only just begun.
But having exhibited a flair for sticking around and converting useful starts into considerable knocks that can add value, Blundell at present seems in the Matt Renshaw zone. Can he first get to be among the likes of a Kraigg Brathwaite and then, later on, become a KL Rahul and Pujara-like bat for his team?
Probably, the Black Caps would know that answer.