Tom Blundell's selection as the specialist wicketkeeper for the Chappell-Hadlee series means he should be invested with the full confidence to perform, rather than flirting with Tom Latham as a quick-fix solution.

With Luke Ronchi yet to recover from his groin injury, Blundell and Latham have been shoulder-tapped to prepare for glovework rather than recalling B-J Watling to the limited overs format after his batting struggles against Australia in December.

The 26-year-old Blundell has excelled for Wellington this season, emerging as the leading candidate from a four-way joust between himself, Central Districts' Dane Cleaver, Northern Districts' Tim Seifert and Auckland's Glenn Phillips to take the gloves into the next generation.

It is imperative New Zealand find a successor to Ronchi and Watling as both move further into their 30s.


Selector Gavin Larsen stressed Blundell was the "frontline" option to keep against Australia, with opener Latham being considered as a way to incorporate an extra batsman or bowler into the XI.

However, as a developing player, Blundell needs to know he has the backing to be that extra batsman against the world No.1s. Any hesitation could raise self-doubt.

Latham has kept for New Zealand in three of his 49 ODIs and four of his 12 T20Is. All those appearances were in 2012 and 2013. He has had always played as a middle order batsman in such circumstances.

Realistically, he needs to be afforded a chance to further establish himself as Brendon McCullum's long term successor in the opening role. Yes, he had success against Bangladesh over the festive season with his highest ODI score of 137 in Christchurch, followed by 22 and four in Nelson. That contrasted against 34 runs at 11.33 and a strike rate of 63 against Australia earlier in December.

Latham will keep for Canterbury against Auckland on Saturday in Rangiora to see if he feels capable of meeting the international challenge. If he goes behind the stumps it comes with an opportunity cost; he is an athletic fielder capable of outstanding catches and tenacious chasing.

Blundell didn't get the chance to further showcase his talents today in the Ford Trophy. The Wellington-Auckland match was abandoned at the Basin Reserve.

Yet anyone watching his 69 off 43 balls at Seddon Park to see the Firebirds home with an over to spare chasing 176 against the Knights in the McDonald's Super Smash would be convinced of his maturity. Blundell scored three half-centuries with an average of 30.37 and strike rate of 134 as his side came from behind to win the T20 competition. Curiously for a wicketkeeper, there was one dismissal. He caught Central Districts' Marty Kain in the final.

Blundell's glovework has been better showcased at Plunket Shield level where, after five rounds this season he leads the table alongside Auckland's Brad Cachopa with 14 dismissals (13 catches and a stumping).

Blundell said he understood the selectors desire to see him make runs in Wellington's next List A match against Canterbury on Wednesday.

"All wicketkeepers have to bat well these days. It does add a bit of weight. If I can perform, and they see that, they'll back me to do a job.

"I had a good T20 campaign and I got 40-odd [41] in the Ford Trophy the other day [against Otago] so I'm backing my ability. I feel good at the moment.

"I think the key is just being a busy player with the gloves and the bat. 'Ronks' always helps me out and we have some good chats on keeping. He's been fantastic."