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News

Tom Blundell calls for final-day fight at end of 'disappointing' series for New Zealand

Wicketkeeper proud of record stands with Mitchell, but admits team 'haven't been quite there'

Matt Roller
Matt Roller
26-Jun-2022
Tom Blundell gets a ramp away off the bowling of Matthew Potts, England vs New Zealand, 3rd Test, Headingley, 4th day, June 26, 2022

Tom Blundell gets a ramp away off the bowling of Matthew Potts  •  AFP/Getty Images

Tom Blundell said that New Zealand have "got to fight" on the final day of the Headingley Test in their bid to avoid a 3-0 whitewash, but retains hope that the pitch deteriorating will help them create eight opportunities and bowl England out with only 113 more runs required to win.
Blundell was unbeaten on 88 as New Zealand were bowled out for 326 in their second innings to set England 296, but an unbroken third-wicket stand of 132 runs in 26.5 overs between Ollie Pope and Joe Root has put them on back foot.
"This team has been known to fight and we've got to come out there and do that tomorrow," Blundell said. "You put a couple of wickets on there and you just never know. Obviously you've got two guys out there in good form but if we get one of those, who knows.
"The wicket is deteriorating. A little bit of variable bounce, obviously with the spin as well. It's quite hard to drive with that older ball. It looks like it's going to deteriorate even more and hopefully we can utilise that tomorrow."
Blundell will finish the series with three fifties and a hundred to his name and an average of 76.60. He has consolidated his position as BJ Watling's replacement and shared four century partnerships with Daryl Mitchell, but said that the tour had ultimately been "disappointing" after defeats in the first two Tests.
"It's obviously disappointing: as a group we probably haven't been quite there," he said. "Who knows tomorrow. On a personal note, it's been fantastic to bat with Daryl and have those partnerships, it's just unfortunate that a couple of results haven't really gone our way."
Jack Leach, who took his second five-for of the match to complete the first ten-wicket haul of his career, said it had been "amazing to experience and be a part of" the England dressing room throughout the series since Brendon McCullum and Ben Stokes were appointed as coach and captain respectively.
Leach was due to come in next if a wicket had fallen in the final 20 minutes of the fourth day and joked that Stokes had told him he would be used as a "night-pinch-hitter" rather than a nightwatchman.
"It was the longest 20 minutes padded up as nightwatchman," he told Sky Sports. "I stuck my head out the window and I said, 'are we still going for this tonight if I get in?' Stokesy said it's a night-pinch-hitter now. But no, I would have been trying to survive [until] the morning and then have a swing.
"It's a challenging surface, it's day four and things are happening, so the way Popey and Rooty especially played there was really good to watch. We've got to come back tomorrow and do the good things again but it's just a positive mentality. You realise how many decisions in cricket are based maybe around negativity.
"This new way, if you like, is extremely positive. It feels like in a lot of four or five-day games, you give up on the win quite early in the game, whereas [in this England team] it feels like you're always pushing for that win. That's obviously going to be tested - and is being tested now, because we need 100 more on a day-five wicket."

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98