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The Big Six

Tom Latham: New Zealand’s man of the moment

by Taha Hashim 5 minute read

Rain ruined the final session, but it was another dominant day of Test cricket from New Zealand, with Tom Latham leading the way. Taha Hashim reviews the opening day’s play in Hamilton.


Broad toys with Raval

6.6 Jeet Raval c Joe Root b Stuart Broad 5 (21)

Jeet Raval’s struggle for runs continued, with Stuart Broad giving the New Zealand opener a tough working over. From around the wicket Broad plugged away in search of the top of off. It was a wider ball that did the trick, one Raval looked desperate to feast upon and send through the covers. Instead, he found Joe Root’s safe hands in the slip cordon. England were up and running.

Crawley’s ugly start

11.2 Chris Woakes to Tom Latham, five runs

Dom Sibley got his Test career off to a cracking start at Bay Oval, cracking his first ball for four. For Zak Crawley, his first notable act as an England cricketer was one he’d probably like to forget. Tom Latham clipped to midwicket for a single and, eager to make his mark, Crawley picked up and threw towards the non-striker’s end. Well, that was the plan.

Instead, the ball didn’t only sail high and wide; it beat the despairing goalkeeper’s dive from the man backing up. Even Chris Woakes, The Nicest Man in Cricket, had to shake his head in despair as New Zealand collected the rarest of digits.

Woakes can smile now

13.6 Kane Williamson c Joe Root b Chris Woakes 4 (20)

Williamson out for four! It always feels slightly wrong to see Williamson return to the dressing room after suffering a failure, such is his usual mastery with bat in hand. But Woakes managed to square up the New Zealand skipper and nab his edge to send him on his way.

Yep, the smile’s gone

27.1 Chris Woakes to Tom Latham, no run

For a brief few moments it appeared as if this was to be defined as Woakes’ session, a worthy achievement for a man who has gained notoriety for his struggles overseas. Woakes thought he had the impressive Latham out from the first ball of the 28th over, with Kumar Dharmasena raising his finger for lbw.

The review showed the ball to be pitching outside leg stump, and Latham – immaculate in his leaves and tucking away anything too straight – went to fifty from the last ball of the over to round off the session on 86-2. It was New Zealand’s morning – by the barest of margins.

A “tiny spot”

34.4 Stuart Broad to Ross Taylor, no run

Broad felt, nay, knew he’d got Taylor’s wicket after the right-hander’s pad took a beating from a fuller delivery, the fist pump arriving before the finger was raised. England had broken the partnership and New Zealand were 94-3.

Then came the review and some confusion to go with it. According to Bruce Oxenford, there was a “tiny spot” on Taylor’s bat upon his second viewing of Hot Spot. The batsman survived and, to make matters worse for the English, he began to crank things up, hitting back-to-back boundaries off Jofra Archer a couple of overs later. Taylor went all the way to his 32nd Test fifty before he was finally dismissed.

Latham does the inevitable

53.2 Joe Root to Tom Latham, FOUR

Clip, clip, clip. Latham was a man in control throughout his innings. Comfortable in defence, the clip through the leg side was in full force. He offered a chance while on 66: extra bounce and movement from Archer found the outside edge, but Ben Stokes at second slip couldn’t hold on diving to his left. It was an anomaly. From the early stages of his innings, Latham was destined to go to three figures.

The landmark arrived from the final over the session as Root was discarded for four through mid-on. Let’s get the stats out of the way: Latham has hit five Test tons over the last 12 months, with his 967 runs coming at an average of 96.70. The diminutive Latham has emerged as a giant in the longest format.

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