India tour of New Zealand 2013-14

Latham in 'tricky' spot for Test debut

Abhishek Purohit in Wellington

February 12, 2014

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Tom Latham takes a run as Graham Onions follows through, New Zealand XI v England XI tour game, Queenstown, 4th day, March 2, 2013
Tom Latham is the second highest run-scorer in the Plunket Shield this season at an average of 68.70 © Getty Images
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Jesse Ryder's latest indiscretion has given Tom Latham a spot in the New Zealand Test squad. And if Ross Taylor's second child does not arrive by tomorrow, Latham will make his Test debut in Wellington against India. It is a "tricky" scenario, Latham admitted, but it will also fulfil his dream to play Test cricket for his nation, and the 21-year old is gearing up for it.

"I suppose it is a tricky one but I have to prepare myself to play and if I do get the nod, then I am ready to go and if not, then Ross will slot back in," Latham said. "It will be very exciting. I have always wanted to play Test cricket, to play Test cricket for New Zealand is a dream and it will be very rewarding."

There could be pressure playing your first Test, but Latham said it helped coming into a side that was yet to lose a game to the visitors. "It's probably the best way to come into a team, when the team is doing well. There will be pressure on me but the boys will be squarely behind me if I do get the nod."

Latham has caught some of the Indian bowling on television during this series and feels they are a decent attack, especially on a Wellington pitch which wore a green look two days before the match starts. "I remember playing [Mohammed] Shami out here a few years back when he came out with the India A team and he was a good bowler," Latham said. "They are all good bowlers in probably tricky conditions which should be out there. If I do get the nod, then fingers crossed I will do well."

He got the call-up on the back of his 687 runs at an average of 68.70 in the ongoing domestic first-class Plunket Shield. He made five half-centuries and an unbeaten double-hundred for Canterbury, and was glad to have turned in consistent scores.

"That's what I was asked to do," he said. "I went back and played for Canterbury and it's nice that I have been putting those numbers on the board and I think that consistency is probably the most pleasing thing. It is nice that the selectors have rewarded me for that consistency. I have done a lot of work with Bob [Carter] in the Black Caps setup. He has been really good and he was my coach a few years ago at Canterbury."

Those first-class runs came at the top of the order but if he plays in Wellington, Latham will have to slot into the middle order, something he said he should have "no problems" doing. "I have batted in the middle order before. It's my first season sort of opening for Canterbury. Last season I was in the middle order so it's not a position that is unfamiliar to me, so hopefully I can carry on from where I have left off with Canterbury."

Latham said even opening in first-class cricket had not posed too many issues, as he had done the job through age-group cricket. If the Test debut happened, he said he would look to continue what had worked for him at Canterbury, which was to play his natural game.

He was part of the New Zealand side that toured Sri Lanka in November last year, and made a match-winning 86 off 68 in the second ODI in Hambantota. Before that, he had fifties in unofficial Tests in Sri Lanka and India for New Zealand A. Latham said those scores had boosted his self-belief.

"It was obviously nice to score runs and let yourself know that you can do it. In the games after that, I have certainly felt more confident batting out there. Putting those numbers on the board builds that confidence."

Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by   on (February 13, 2014, 7:21 GMT)

Latham should open, bat Fulton at 6.

Posted by nzcricket174 on (February 13, 2014, 2:22 GMT)

Turns out Neesahm got the call up. wonder how the batting order shapes up then?

Posted by satchander on (February 13, 2014, 1:34 GMT)

@Nero28: Anyone can get a hundred against our (Indian) bowling attack. There will be flashes of good bowling by India (like getting NZ out for 105) between many many mediocre performances. I have given up on the bowling unless Dhoni brings in changes (Zaheer way past his sell by date, Ishant consistenly inconsistent). I am keen to see how indian batting will cope in swinging and windy conditions in Wellington with Boult, Southee and Wagner all in their prime form.

Posted by   on (February 13, 2014, 0:41 GMT)

Ross Taylor will only play if the baby is born BEFORE the test - otherwise Latham is playing so that theres no issues around Ross running away midway through a test - in fact Taylor is still in Auckland with his wife....

Posted by choppa13 on (February 13, 2014, 0:14 GMT)

I'm with unmesh_cric but what if the baby comes second day while he is batting? If he's fielding they'll just sub him out pretty sure it happened to Michael Vaughan.

have to agree with nero28 Latham should be playing regardless, fultons number is up and Rutherford is not far behind but at least he has age on his side but I hope they prove me wrong.

boult and southee are gonna b unplayable if its as green as they say it is, but the Indians could be just as hard to play if they get there length right. Hope for a good contest

Posted by ThePacifist10 on (February 12, 2014, 23:45 GMT)

Hey Nero28, Mohammed Shami says hello. As does 105 all out!

Posted by SixFourOut on (February 12, 2014, 23:15 GMT)

I really wonder why Rutherford and Fulton get a free pass to be so mediocre?

Posted by Unmesh_cric on (February 12, 2014, 17:17 GMT)

Just wondering...what if Ross Taylor's child is born on the 2nd day of Test?

Posted by Nero28 on (February 12, 2014, 13:30 GMT)

Latham will get a debut hundred against india's toothless attack. Begin to count your breath India

Posted by Bishop on (February 12, 2014, 10:20 GMT)

C'mon Mrs Taylor...NZ needs Rosco for the second test! Having said that, I think Latham should play regardless. If Ross is good to go, Todd should come in at the expense of either Fulton or Rutherford.

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