Wicketkeeper-batsman Tom Blundell is all set to make his Test debut after being named in the 13-man New Zealand squad for the opening match against West Indies, beginning December 1 here at the Basin Reserve.
The 27-year-old was included in the national squad after BJ Watling was ruled out due to a hip injury, and now Blundell is all set to play his first Test on the home ground of his Wellington province.
Reflecting on the inclusion, national selector Gavin Larsen insisted that Blundell's improvement with the gloves over the past one year has earned him a call-up.
"Tom's worked hard on his game and we've seen his wicket-keeping in particular really develop over the past 12 months. The chance to play his first Test at his home ground is going to be really special for him. BJ is still working his way back to full fitness and hopefully he gets some time with the gloves for Northern Districts soon," ESPNcricinfo quoted Blundell, as saying.
Earlier this month, Blundell showcased a brilliant performance as a wicketkeeper when he picked up 10 catches during Wellington's win over Canterbury in the Plunket Shield.
Meanwhile, fast bowler Lockie Ferguson has also been roped-in in the squad for the first Test as cover for Tim Southee.
However, Southee has not been ruled out of the opening Test, with Ferguson, who bagged 12 wickets despite a thumb fracture earlier this month, being named in the national squad against West Indies only as a back-up.
"With Tim awaiting the birth of his child, his availability is still uncertain at this point, so Lockie helps keep our bases covered," Larsen said.
The New Zealand squad is as follows:
Kane Williamson (capt), Trent Boult, Colin de Grandhomme, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Jeet Raval, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee (subject to availability), Ross Taylor, Neil Wagner, Lockie Ferguson, Tom Blundell (wk).