Blundell set for Test debut, NZ call Ferguson to cover for Southee

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Wicketkeeper Tom Blundell is set to make his debut in the first Test against West Indies on December 1. With BJ Watling unavailable due to a hip injury, Blundell will be drafted into New Zealand’s XI to play in front of his hometown fans at the Basin Reserve. Pace bowler Lockie Ferguson, too, joined the squad as cover for Tim Southee, who is expecting the birth of his child.

Selector Gavin Larsen said Blundell’s improvement with the gloves over the past year has earned him a promotion. Less than two weeks ago, he picked up 10 catches in Wellington’s victory over Canterbury in the Plunket Shield

“Tom’s worked hard on his game and we’ve seen his wicketkeeping in particular really develop over the past 12 months,” Larsen said. “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.”

Southee, however, is not ruled out of the opening Test, and Larsen said that Ferguson, who picked up 12 wickets despite a thumb fracture earlier this month, was drafted into the squad 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. “Lockie’s been in good form domestically and showed good signs for New Zealand A as well. His extra pace brings a slightly different dimension to the attack.”

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