Tom Latham: 'One of those things where everything you do doesn't work'

Stand-in captain explains rationale behind their intent to attack India's spinners

Sidharth Monga
Sidharth Monga
Henry Nicholls goes for the sweep, India vs New Zealand, 2nd Test, Mumbai, 4th day, December 6, 2021

Henry Nicholls was last man out on the fourth day  •  BCCI

It is the nature of cricket conversations that when you get bowled out for 62 and 167 all the focus is on the batters, who essentially just respond to the conditions and the opposition bowling. It isn't so much around the bowlers who allow the opposition to score 325 and 276 for 7 on the same surface.
When you are faced, as a traveling team, with such conditions and the bowling of India's quality, there is not much the batters can do really if the bowlers allow the hosts to score above-par scores.
Tom Latham, New Zealand's stand-in captain, though, found himself talking about his batters extensively, and Ross Taylor in particular. Taylor's approach in the second innings, where he tried to attack the spinners and failed to do so, came in for sharper criticism than Will Somerville's returns: the only spinner to have bowled 50 overs in a series in India without a wicket.
"Ross obviously had the approach where he tried to put their bowlers under pressure," Latham said. "As soon as you do that, subcontinent teams tend to take players from under the bat pretty quickly. Unfortunately for Ross, it didn't quite work out for him. That was the plan Ross had going into that innings.
"In these conditions, you can't just allow them to bowl. They are very good. They are very accurate, and they don't give you much to hit. For us it was about trying to put a little bit more pressure on them to get a few more fielders away from the bat. Because you know they don't miss that often.
"For us it was about guys having a certain plan and being able to stick to that. If you have a plan and you get out, that's just the game of cricket. It's up to individuals how they approach their innings."
Latham said there wasn't much they could have done differently when they got bowled out for 62. "One of those things in cricket where everything you do doesn't tend to work," Latham said. "One of those days that happens in cricket. We have done that to teams at different times around the world. Unfortunately it was our time and things didn't quite unfold the way we would have wanted.
"From our point of view, you have to take a lot of learnings from it. The way we came out in the second innings, and the guys sort of changed their game plan a little bit and put a bit of pressure on their bowlers… [but] as we know in India, the longer you go, the harder it gets to bat. One of those games where we unfortunately couldn't get the right result."
There were small positives on the Test tour, but far from a finished product. "Those three guys you mentioned [Ajaz Patel, Will Young, Rachin Ravindra], their first time in this part of the world, for them to step up at different times for us, and to make contributions throughout the series was outstanding," Latham said. "It is great for the depth of New Zealand cricket to have more exposure in these conditions.
"The more you play in this part of the world, the more you sort of learn and are able to grow your game. Obviously pleasing for those guys but also for everyone else there are learnings to take. So that the next time we are here, those learnings will be put to practice."

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo