Cricket: Tom Blundell stands tall against world's best as Blackcaps search for answers against England

It didn't come easily, but Blackcaps wicketkeeper Tom Blundell now has no doubt he can match the best in the world.

As New Zealand were hammered by 267 runs by England at Bay Oval, Blundell was one of few Blackcaps to depart Mt Maunganui with his reputation enhanced.

With the first innings delicately poised, 32-year-old Blundell struck his fourth test century, eventually out for a career-best 138 of New Zealand's total of 306.

Blundell's success against England is no fluke either.

Tom Blundell.
Tom Blundell. Photo credit: Photosport

On New Zealand's 2022 tour, Blundell scored an impressive 383 runs at an average of over 76, scoring one century and three fifties, with only Daryl Mitchell (538) being more prolific among the Kiwi batters.

For Blundell, who has in the past admitted the struggle of replacing BJ Watling - who puts forward a very compelling case as New Zealand's greatest ever wicketkeeper - the last 12 months have seen him emerge in his own right.

Through 23 tests to date, Blundell has already scored half of Watling's total of eight centuries from 75 tests at a superior batting average of 44.20 to his predecessor's 37.52.

Meanwhile Blundell's glovework saw him go through all of 2022 without conceding a single bye.

Now as a fully fledged member of the Blackcaps' test side, Blundell has no doubts about his presence among the world champions' ranks.

"I feel comfortable at this level," he said. "In the past it took a bit of time to feel comfortable.

"What happened in England, I can take a lot of confidence from that. Now I feel like I belong at this level - which is a nice feeling."

The Blackcaps will hope for more of the same from their gloveman this week, as they hunt for a series draw against the tourists.

Defeat at Bay Oval leaves the Blackcaps staring at a first test series loss on home soil to any opponent since 2017, and first against England since 2008.

England have set test cricket alight, with 10 wins from their past 11 games, while the Blackcaps are winless from their last seven.

But for Blundell, who averages a touch under 70 with the bat against England, the chance of performing against a team he labels the best in the game is fuelling him for what's to come on his home ground at the Basin Reserve.

"It's just [about] being clear and trusting myself, trusting my processes," he added. 

"Prior to that week, I hadn't thought about much cricket with the birth of my second son.

"It was just trusting that I'd done it before, in England, which I take a lot of confidence from.

"I love competing against the world's best, it gets the best out of me, I just love it. You really want to test yourself against quality bowlers, like Broady [Stuart Broad] and [James] Anderson."