Tom Blundell- an uncapped wicketkeeper-batsman has made a surprise entry into the 15 member squad for the upcoming ICC World Cup 2019. Blundell got this chance after Tim Seifert, who impressed the selectors with his limited chances as the second choice wicketkeeper, got an injury on the little finger of his right hand on the last day of domestic season while playing for the local team- Northern Districts.
Most of the players made it through to the squad without any debate, Colin DE Grandhomme was picked up ahead of Doug Bracewell as the all-rounder of the team. Whereas, Ish Sodhi makes his way ahead of Todd Astle as the second spinner in the side. Grandhomme will accompany his fellow all-rounder James Neesham in the side, while Sodhi will have his partner in crime, the slow left-armer Mitchell Santner.
Keeping the English conditions in mind, NZ have made a formidable pace attack, which comprises of phenomenal players like Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Lockie Ferguson and Matt Henry. We speculate that, only 3 pacers would make it to the playing XI, Southee and Henry would be the ones who would have a tiff for making it to the XI.
The NZ selectors have also showed faith in an out-of-form Colin Munro, who made it to the fifteen man squad despite of some average ODI numbers under his belt. Munro is expected to play a back-up role with the remaining batsman around him taking charge.
Gary Stead, head coach of the NZ team said that, while naming any squad for major tournaments, there had to be some tough calls and some players might be disappointed during the process. The key for NZ team is to find the right balance for the squad and make sure that all the bases are covered for the competitive tournament of World Cup. Stead said that, as a One-Day unit, New Zealand has been pretty consistent over the past few years and posses a very experienced core of players who have proved their metal at top levels.
Stead further added that, The World Cup is the peak of cricket and to be the first nation to announce the squad for the tournament has been exciting to him. He congratulated all the selected players and said that the players and support staff are looking forward to the upcoming challenges.
The squad is looking forward to prepare at the three 2-day training camps in Christchurch in April, before heading to Australia for a three-match unofficial 50-over series. However, many players are involved in IPL and would not be available for the squad.
Stead said that, during the three training camps through April, he would be involving many players who did not made it to the world cup squad, as it is important for the team that several players would be ready on stand-by in case of any injuries in the team leading up to the world cup.
The surprise entrant Tom Blundell, is the wicketkeeper batsman who hails from Wellington, he made his list-A debut in 2013 against Otago and since then, has scored 763 runs at an average of 23.81 in the 50-over format. He also has affected 41 dismissals in his list-A career so far. The 29-year-old has represented New Zealand Cricket in 2 tests and 3 T20Is.
The 15 member world-cup squad: Kane Williamson (C), Tom Blundell, Trent Boult, Colin De Grandhomme, Lockie Ferguson, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Colin Munro, James Neesham, Henry Nicholls, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee and Ross Taylor.