Sturdily built, Tom Latham ain’t among the tallest in the New Zealand side yet expeditious on field. Not inherently elegant but discerning in his approach. He ain’t a run-machine but is consistent, he’s inventive around conditions which don’t offer much to his batting. It can be said that he is the batting version of Neil Wagner.
Tom Latham, son of former New Zealand all-rounder Rod Latham, ain’t as gifted as his captain Kane Williamson but is thoroughly diligent. Latham made his ODI debut in a series against Zimbabwe in the year 2012, batting at No.5 and No.6 scoring 24 and 40 odd runs, respectively. That series was followed by the one against West Indies which didn’t prove to be thriving for him. It was the Bangladesh tour in 2013, his ODI callback, when he came in as an opener and scored a decent 43. The series subsequent to that, in Sri Lanka, he opened batting again and scooped the ‘Player of the match’ title for his 68-ball 86. Off 5 one day internationals that he appeared in 2013, he fared decently with a total of 142 runs at an average of 35.50. 2014 wasn’t as successful for Tom in terms of the 50-over format but mellowed into a Test call-up for the left-handed batsman.
India played a 2-match Test series in New Zealand, in February 2014, the 2nd of which marked the Test debut of Latham as a mere replacement as Ross Taylor was away. He managed to score a duck in the first innings and contributed a scant 29 in New Zealand’s second innings wherein the home team had produced a gigantic total of 680 with skipper Brendon McCullum scoring a triple century [Scorecard]. By mid 2014, Latham turned the tables on his stars when the Blackcaps toured West Indies in which he emerged fairly successful with three half-centuries, 288 runs scored at 48 average with a highest score of 83, again as an opener. The opener position only consolidated with Hamish Rutherford’s poor form. Latham’s fine form continued when New Zealand toured UAE for a 3-match test series against Pakistan. After failing to convert his half centuries into ton, he finally procured his first international century(103) in the 1st test. Anyhow, New Zealand lost the match to Pakistan by a huge margin of 248. New Zealand fought back well in the 2nd test which was drawn, in which Tom Latham scored 137. The test series was drawn as New Zealand totally dominated the 3rd test with aid of skipper Brendon McCullum and Kane Williamson. Latham’s numbers in the year 2014 were a decent 643 runs scored at 42.86 average, off 8 matches. His away(and neutral) record for the same year was an impressive 570 at 51.81. In the 8 matches he played in 2015, 3 series of which 2 were away from home(England and Australia) including the D/N test at Adelaide where he became the first batsman to score a fifty in a pink ball test. He scored 537 at 35 average which included a ton. His ODI form took surge as well and he finally attained his first limited overs ton in an ODI against Zimbabwe, 318 away runs at 63 .60 which included three half-centuries vs South Africa. In the World Cup though he remained as a backup for Luke Ronchi and never got selected for even a single game.
New Zealand hosted a 2-match Test Series against Australia in February 2016, which marked the Farewell Test series of skipper Baz. The Blackcaps definitely had a tough time despite impressive efforts of Neil Wagner and record fastest test century by B. McCullum, as Australia took away the series 2-0. Latham managed one fifty plus score of 63. After WT20 and after 5 months of being away New Zealand resumed Test Cricket in August with their tour to Zimbabwe. Kent had signed Tom Latham as an overseas players where he made his county championship debut wherein he scored half centuries in both the innings. He played all the three formats for Kent and left in July to join his national test side. It was a walk in the park for New Zealand to whitewash the home team. Tom Latham scored centuries in successive matches. Captain Kane Williamson scored his 14th test century in the 1st test and set a World record of being the youngest to score at least one Test century vs every Test playing nation. The following series in South Africa left New Zealand in shambles. The 1st test got washed off, and Latham managed just 8 runs(4,4,0) off 3 innings. South Africa’s comeback star Dale Steyn got the better of him all the 3 times.
Test series in India have their own set of challenges, more for the current New Zealand with minimum experience in the sub-continent. New Zealand faced India in the 1st at Kanpur, which was also the 500th Test for the home team, that started on 22nd September. India scored a total of 318 in the first innings, in response to that NZ made 262 that included half centuries by Tom Latham(who stayed on pitch for 220 minutes) and Kane Williamson. The 56 run deficit later turned into a 197-run defeat to India. In the next couple of matches as well New Zealand fell prey to spin with Ravichandran Ashwin, who dismissed Latham 4 times in 6 innings, taking it all away. In those defeats as well, Tom Latham scored successive half centuries. He batted for more than 200 odd minutes twice(in Kanpur and in Kolkata) in alien conditions. Although he struggled and couldn’t manage to convert any of his 50-plus scores into tons, his consistency and test batting temperament can be derived as something than can be implemented for further profit of his team.
That Tom Latham is a reliable team person ceased to be a mere conjecture when in the first of the 5-match ODI series he carried his bat, 1st kiwi and tenth overall in ODIs, at the end of the New Zealand innings scoring 79* off 98. Despite that India bagged a smooth win with the aid of Kohli and Pandya [Scorecard]. 46, 61 and 39 were Latham’s numbers in the next three games. New Zealand lost both the games where Latham secured fifty-plus scores, due to Kohli’s 85 and 154 respectively. The series now stands at 2-2 and the decider is to be played at Visakhapatnam on Saturday. With 419 runs at an average of 46.55 off 3 test matches and 4 ODIs in this series, Tom Latham is on the top amongst New Zealand batsmen and has the 3rd spot, overall, after Kohli and Rahane.
Related Article: NEW ZEALAND’S TOUR OF INDIA: ODI SERIES REVIEW
To stand out against the odds and give your best for your team takes a lot of devotion and effort, Tom Latham has proven enough of himself as a staunch opener to consolidate his position in the team in both the leading formats. All in all, his numbers suggest that he is a better player away from home conditions. From West Indies to England just barring South Africa, he has better numbers than in New Zealand. So if we make a list of weaknesses that Tom needs to overcome, his home record would certainly have a place besides him not being able to convert his double figures into the 3-figured score pretty often. One of the biggest positives for Latham that he would be taking away from India is a huge fan base in the sub-continent and therefore more recognition.