Tom Blundell’s determination and hard work as a Colchester and East Essex player has paved the way for him to make his mark on the international stage.

That is the view of his friend and former Castle Park team-mate Ben Stephens, after the New Zealand wicketkeeper hit a magnificent unbeaten century on his Test debut.

Blundell, who played as Colchester’s overseas player in the Shepherd Neame Essex League in the summers of 2012 and 2013, scored a magnificent 107 not out against West Indies at his home ground in Wellington.

Colchester believe he is the first player from the club to ever score a Test century.

Stephens, who lived with Blundell for six months in Cowdray Avenue during his Castle Park spell, says the Kiwi was focused on improving his game.

Stephens told the Daily Gazette: “Tom came here in 2012 and at that time, he played as an off spinner and a batsman – he had never kept wicket before.

“He saw a pathway as a wicketkeeper and when he came back for his second year here, he shed blood, sweat and tears in training, taking hundreds of catches and hitting hundreds of balls.

“You could see how talented he was back then but the bits of the puzzle were here, there and everywhere.

“But even back then, you could see that he was a man for the big occasion.

“He’ll only learn from the experience of playing in his first-ever Test Match and hopefully he’ll go onto play many more and he’s still seriously good at One Day Cricket.”

Blundell played 69 games in total, during his two seasons at Colchester and East Essex.

In his time at Castle Park, he hit a total of 2,272 league runs with his biggest score coming against Shenfield in July 2012, when he hit an unbeaten 133 off 166 balls.

“We’ve exchanged a few messages since he scored his Test hundred,” added former Colchester first XI captain Stephens.

“I told him that he’s a complete joker and that he made it look easy.

“The funny thing is that he was never the most organised of chaps and he caught by the TV cameras walking back from the game still in his whites, holding a cricket stump as memorabilia.”

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