New Zealand top-order batsman Jeet Raval has been dropped from the side for their boxing day Test match against Australia in Melbourne on December 26, and will be replaced by the in-form Tom Blundell.
Twenty-nine year old Blundell has just scored an unbeaten half-century against a Victorio XI side in a warm-up game prior to the Test, eventually retiring after a 70-ball 59 that included ten fours.
After he was confirmed as Raval’s replacement for the Test, Blundell said, “I feel like I can do a good job wherever. This game I’ve been given the opportunity to open, so I’m really looking forward to Boxing Day."
Blundell had made his debut for New Zealand in 2017 at home against West Indies, and had scored a century in Wellington. Even though Blundell has never batted above the number five position, his fifty coupled with a bad run of form for Raval who averages just 7.3 in his last nine Test innings’ had opened the door for Blundell to stake his claim to the spot.
“I’ll probably try to still bat the same," Blundell said, maintaining that he will not change his style to suit the position in the batting order. “It’s just the first 30 balls I’ll just have to be a bit more patient outside the off-stump, and if I can last those 30 balls, then hopefully, I can bat a bit more positively."
New Zealand coach Gary Stead backed Raval throughout his poor patch of form against England at home in the last series, but with returns of just one run in each innings at Perth, Stead decided to give the only other batting alternative Blundell a shot in the team.