Touching gesture: Black Cap Tom Blundell's message in historic century

Publish Date
Monday, 30 December 2019, 6:06PM
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By: Cameron McMillan

He was the one Black Caps batsman who showed real fight in Melbourne today but Tom Blundell was doing it for a young girl who is going through a much bigger battle.

Blundell scored his second test century and his first opening the innings after being recalled to the Black Caps side for his first test in two years.

The 29-year-old became the first New Zealander to reach three figures in the series, and the first at the MCG, before being the last man dismissed for 121 as the Black Caps were bowled out for 240 to lose the test by 247 runs.

Blundell's multi-coloured batting grip was in support of six-year-old Hollie Beattie who is battling cancer.

The grip, designed by Hollie with the help of Kookaburra are being sold by Players Sports to help raise money for her cancer fight.

Hollie's father John is a foundation staff member of Players Sports and the company who have been selling the grips for $9.99 to raise money for her treatment. Teammates Neil Wagner and Tim Southee also used the grip in Melbourne while Southee has previously donated a test shirt signed by the team following the victory against Sri Lanka in Colombo earlier this year.

Hollie's parents Joanna and John told the Herald they were staying with family in Feilding and didn't have access to Sky's coverage the last two days so were listening to the test on Radio Sport. They started getting sent images from friends once they had seen Blundell batting with the grip.

"When he [Blundell] got to 50 we were sent a photo of him holding up the bat and then to hear he got 100 was exciting. We played the audio for Hollie on the radio and that was exciting for her," Joanna told the Herald.

Kookaburra spoke to Hollie about her favourite colours and she also helped design the colour waves.

"It's quite humbling really," her father told the Herald.

"It's one of those things at the time where you think 'really are people going to buy this grip?' but the support of players and Players Sport has been magnificent in making awareness," John said. "A lot of people around the country have been buying into it as well. It's been very humbling."

All profits from the special grips help support the Beattie family by way of helping with additional expenses as well as special outings for Hollie.

A Givealittle page for Hollie has also raised more than $28,000.

In July last year Hollie was diagnosed with a rare, aggressive form of cancer called Neuroblastoma. After initial chemotherapy cycles in December 2018 and following repeat tests, the family heard the devastating news that chemotherapy has failed to make an impact on the disease in her bone marrow. Hollie has been through several more cycles of chemo which lead up to two stem cell transplants which concluded in July.

"We've got two more months until we know if she's got through at all. We're just obviously hoping she has. It's been up and down and a longer journey than it should have been," Joanna said. "Fingers crossed the retest shows good news."

Blundell walked out to the middle of the MCG yesterday with fellow opener Tom Latham to begin the second innings with New Zealand needing 488 to win the second test.

However Latham, captain Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor all fell before the lunch break on day four to leave New Zealand struggling at 35-3. With three of the side's most experienced batsmen back in the sheds it was the opener rookie Blundell who led the fight.

Blundell batted for 321 minutes and almost carried his bat before being the ninth and final Black Cap dismissed. Blundell was probably the only winner for the Black Caps as he secured his place at the top of the order for the third test starting in Sydney on Thursday.

This article was first published on nzherald.co.nz and is republished here with permission