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Opinion

The ODI career of Tom Latham so far

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Roar Guru
17th March, 2021
15

Growing up, Tom Latham lived in the shadow of his father Rod Latham. After all, Rod Latham was part of that New Zealand squad in the 1992 ICC Cricket World Cup which had made the semi-finals.

While his father was an all rounder, Latham was primarily a top order batsman who could keep in the shorter formats.

Making his List A debut for Canterbury in January 2011, Latham scored a tidy 46 in the middle order and took two catches behind the stumps.

A year later, Latham made his ODI debut for the Blackcaps against Zimbabwe in Dunedin. Playing as a middle order batsman, Latham scored a brisk 24 before Elton Chigumbura had him caught behind. Latham’s introduction to ODI cricket was rough, and would have to wait twelve matches to make a real impact in the Blackcaps ODI outfit.

Opening the batting with New Zealand chasing 198 in 23 overs against Sri Lanka, Latham scored 86 off 68 balls as New Zealand won by four wickets with Latham picking up his first player of the match award in ODI cricket. But chances were hard to come by for Latham as spots were filled for New Zealand in the top and middle order.

Despite averaging a mere 23.9 after 26 ODI’s, Latham was included in New Zealand’s 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup. Just like Latham snr, Tom Latham was part of a special New Zealand World Cup squad that changed the face of New Zealand cricket as the Blackcaps finished runners up; although Tom Latham didn’t play during the World Cup.

Tom Latham

Tom Latham is an underrated weapon for the Black Caps. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Following the World Cup, Latham got more opportunities for the Blackcaps, as he scored his first ODI hundred (110 not out) in August 2015 against Zimbabwe in New Zealand’s 10 wicket victory chase of 236. With Brendon McCullum retiring from international cricket in February 2016, Latham became Martin Guptill’s long term opener in the 50-over format.

Despite performing well in bilateral series against Bangladesh and India, poor home series against Australia and South Africa saw Latham lose the opener’s spot to Luke Ronchi for the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy.

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However, not all was lost. Soon after the Champions Trophy, Latham was given a role that Grant Elliot and Neil Broom had held over the past few years – holding the middle order and ensuring there weren’t collapses after the top four set a platform. Batting at number five for the first time in almost three years, Latham looked a changed player.

Sweeping the Indian wrist spinners to a great effect, Latham scored 103 not out off just 102 balls as New Zealand chased down 281 with an over to spare.

Becoming New Zealand’s wicketkeeper in ODI cricket after the Champions Trophy, Latham became a mainstay in New Zealand’s middle order. Some of New Zealand’s best victories in the 50 over format came in a five match series against England in 2018.

With New Zealand in trouble at Hamilton and Dunedin with top order collapses in big run chases, Latham scored 79 at Hamilton and 71 in Dunedin as New Zealand completed two of their finest run chases in ODI history.

Consistent performances with both bat and gloves saw Latham make the Blackcaps 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup squad. Although he had an average tournament with the bat, Latham stepped up in the final with a 56 ball 47 against England to ensure New Zealand had a par score to defend.

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In New Zealand’s last home ODI series, the Blackcaps were slightly behind at 3-171 in the 29th over chasing 348 against India at Hamilton. Coming in as stand in skipper for the game, Latham swept and swept the Indian spinners, scoring a quickfire 69 off 48 balls as New Zealand completed another fine run chase.

Latham was set to play his 100th ODI on 15 March 2020 at the SCG against Australia. Instead, the pandemic that is the coronavirus lead to the New Zealand squad leaving Australian shores with Latham stuck on 99 ODI matches.

With Kane Williamson ruled out of New Zealand’s ODI series versus Bangladesh, Tom Latham will lead the Blackcaps in his 100th ODI. And it’s been quite the wait between drinks for Latham to reach this milestone in ODI cricket.

Very few New Zealand cricketers have struggled to get out of their father’s shadows who have played for the Blackcaps – just ask Doug Bracewell and Hamish Rutherford. But not Tom Latham. He’s been one of New Zealand’s greatest Test batsman and a reliable middle order batsman in ODI cricket.

Having made his ODI debut at Dunedin, it’s fitting that he’ll lead the Blackcaps at the same ground where he made his ODI debut and even more so on a special milestone many cricketers dream of.

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