By Niall Anderson in Cardiff

Wicketkeeper Tom Latham is on track to play in the Black Caps' World Cup opener against Sri Lanka – and his return is set to leave Tom Blundell sidelined.

Latham successfully got through a strenuous training session at Sophia Gardens in Cardiff today, to take a significant step closer to being ruled fit to play on Saturday.

Ramping up his glovework by keeping to faster deliveries, and doing some extra diving and fielding, Latham's progress got the thumbs up from coach Gary Stead post-training.


"We'll just see how he scrubs up tomorrow morning to make sure there's no ill-effects but things are looking more and more positive for him," said Stead.

"He's reached all the milestones we've wanted him to and he's probably slightly ahead of time, so that's positive, and we've got options we can look at if he's not quite right."

The most likely option in that scenario would be handing Blundell an ODI debut, after some fine performances of late. The Wellington gloveman hit 77 for the New Zealand XI against Australia before backing it up with 106 off 89 balls against the West Indies in their warm-up match in Bristol.

Tom Latham is looking likely to play in the Black Caps' opener. Photo / Photosport
Tom Latham is looking likely to play in the Black Caps' opener. Photo / Photosport

Those knocks led to some speculation whether Blundell could be picked alongside Latham as a specialist batsman, or if he could take the gloves to allow Latham to return to open the batting.

However, Stead played down the likelihood of both keepers being selected.

"It is a discussion point there, but I think it's likely that we'd only have the one keeper that would play."

It's probably the right call for balance – promoting Latham at short notice would be an extreme move, and Blundell's historical record doesn't demand automatic selection, despite his promising displays. But, if there are further injuries or struggles for form, Blundell has shown he won't be out of his depth if called upon.

For now though, it looks like he won't be required, as Latham is feeling positive that he'll be good to go come Saturday.


"Things are feeling really good. I tried to increase things a little more in terms of the targets we wanted to hit. We'll still see how it pulls up tonight and tomorrow - I've got to have a hit against our bowlers tomorrow.

"We're taking it step by step, hopefully the fracture's healed by now and it's more a maintenance thing – we've got all the protection around it that we need."

Now, all Latham needs to do is to recover well, and get through tomorrow's training unscathed to be pulling on the gloves against Sri Lanka.

And, with two apt words, he unwittingly summed up how he and many New Zealand cricket fans will be feeling about his healing digit.

"Fingers crossed."