Tom Blundell scored an unforgettable Boxing Day century, but his unique bat grip revealed the hidden significance behind his innings.
Tom Blundell scored an unforgettable Boxing Day century, but his unique bat grip revealed the hidden significance behind his innings.

Hidden meaning behind Kiwi’s celebration

New Zealand batsman Tom Blundell was given an opportunity to open the batting for his country after teammate Jeet Raval failed to impress in the First Test against Australia, registering scores of one and one.

Blundell has never opened the batting in first-class cricket, and had previously only played two Test matches.

On Sunday, the Melbourne crowd rose to their feet as the 29-year-old reached a historic century, becoming the first New Zealander to pass the milestone at the MCG.

Blundell batted with conviction throughout the 321-minute epic, demonstrating resilience and skill far beyond that of a player with only three Test caps.

He's now New Zealand's highest run scorer and only centurion of the series.

 

However, there was a hidden significance behind the Blundell's innings, unveiled by the multi-coloured grip wrapped around his bat.

Blundell was promoting a fundraiser for a young girl named Hollie, who suffers a rare aggressive cancer called neuroblastoma. She was diagnosed in July, 2018, aged five.

With the help of Kookaburra, Hollie designed the pink and blue grip, which is sold on New Zealand website Players Cricket.

Profits from the cricket bat grip's sales are paid directly to Hollie's family, supporting their journey as the six-year-old undergoes several cycles of chemotherapy.

Teammates Neil Wagner and Tim Southee also used the grip during the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne.

Since Blundell's unforgettable innings on Sunday, the Players Cricket website sold out of the grips, posting: "Due to high demand we have had to reorder more grips which is awesome!"

Six-year-old Hollie was diagnosed with neuroblastoma in 2018, aged five.
Six-year-old Hollie was diagnosed with neuroblastoma in 2018, aged five.

Hollie's parents, Joanna and John, were listening to commentary of Blundell's innings on the radio in Feilding, New Zealand.

"When (Blundell) got to 50 we were sent a photo of him holding up the bat and then to hear he got 100 was exciting. We played the audio for Hollie on the radio and that was exciting for her," Joanna told the NZ Herald.

"A lot of people around the country have been buying into it as well. It's been very humbling."

So far, over $31,200 has been raised for Hollie and her family.

FORMER NSW TWEAKER PICKED FOR SYDNEY TEST

Will Somerville's cricketing career was resurrected when playing in New South Wales, and now his journey is set to come full-circle, being called up by the Black Caps to play in the third and final Test against Australia.

The Black Caps have bolstered their spinning stocks for the Sydney Test, calling in off-spinner Somerville to replace Trent Boult.

Boult is heading home after suffering a fracture to his right hand which is set to sideline him for four weeks, and with Matt Henry and Kyle Jamieson providing seam bowling depth, the Black Caps selectors have opted for Somerville, who could potentially jump straight into the starting XI after Mitchell Santner's struggles in Australia.

Will Sommerville celebrating the wicket of Aston Agar during the Sheffield Shield in 2016.
Will Sommerville celebrating the wicket of Aston Agar during the Sheffield Shield in 2016.

Santner averages 250 with the ball with an expensive economy rate of 3.62 after two Tests in the three-match series.

Somerville could be an asset on a SCG pitch predicted to offer the most turn on the Australian tour.

Australia called in leg spinner Mitchell Swepson to give themselves another spinning option for the New Year's Test, and while the Black Caps have leg-spinner Todd Astle waiting in the wings, the superior accuracy and bounce of Somerville could be a handy point of difference.

It's unlikely the Black Caps will play two spinners, and although Astle edges Somerville with the bat, Somerville's variations could be used as an excuse to launch him into the starting XI ahead of the two incumbent spinners.

Black Caps head coach Gary Stead said the inclusion of Somerville was a nod to the expected conditions in Sydney.

"It's no secret the SCG pitch is one of the more spin-friendly in Australia," Stead said.

"Will offers something different to our two other spinners in the squad with his right arm off-spin and height.

The 35-year-old beat out Ajaz Patel for the call-up, with Patel having been already given a chance outside of the subcontinent. Although he was asked to bowl in unfavourable conditions in New Zealand, and was economical, Patel bowled 43 wicketless overs.

Mitch Santner has struggled to have an impact this series, claiming one wicket in two matches.
Mitch Santner has struggled to have an impact this series, claiming one wicket in two matches.

Somerville has previously played three Test matches for New Zealand, claiming 14 wickets at a commendable average of 25.14. He made his Sheffield Shield debut for New South Wales in the 2013/14 season and represented the Sydney Sixers during the BBL in 2016.

Somerville will play for Auckland in their Twenty20 clash with Wellington on Monday, before linking up with the team in Sydney on Tuesday.

- with NZ Herald