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Tom Latham: Test cricket’s most reliable opening batsman?

Tom Latham
by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Following New Zealand’s 2-0 World Test Championship series win over India, the Wisden Cricket Weekly Podcast panel discussed the recent performances of Tom Latham, whose pair of half-centuries in the second Test proved crucial in New Zealand’s quest to seal the series.

Since the start of 2017, only David Warner has scored more Test runs as an opening batsman at a higher average than Latham’s 49.68. In that time, only Warner and Dean Elgar – who has played eight more Tests than Latham in that time period – have bettered Latham’s century count of six.

The major blot on Latham’s recent record is his performance in a couple of overseas tours. He struggled on New Zealand’s recent tour of Australia – averaging exactly 21 from his three Tests there – and experienced similarly a fallow series against Pakistan in the UAE in 2018. That said, in the recently concluded low scoring series against India and New Zealand’s 1-0 win over England earlier in the winter, Latham played crucial hands in both triumphs.

On the most recent Wisden Cricket Weekly Podcast, the panel of Phil Walker, Yas Rana and Jo Harman discussed Latham’s importance in the New Zealand team and his current standing among Test openers around the world.

YR: The New Zealander who impressed me the most was Tom Latham. I know in the last couple of years he’s scored some really, really big hundreds; he’s got a great average – he averages over 40 in Test cricket. He scored a brace of 52s against a really good attack who were actually bowling really well when the ball was doing all sorts.

I’d call him an aggressive leaver of the ball. He was out leaving a straight ball in the second innings and he was out leaving a straight one against England (earlier in the winter) as well to Stuart Broad. I’ve got no problem with people who leave it and then get bowled.

JH: Even if middle stump cartwheels backwards?

YR: I think Latham leaves it on length quite a lot. I don’t think there’s any difference between nicking one on a fifth, sixth stump line that you don’t need to play at and leaving a straight one. Either way, you’re out both times; either way, it’s an error in judgement. There’s probably no opener in world cricket I’d rather have batting in difficult conditions right now.

PW: Agreed, agreed.

You can listen to the full episode of the Wisden Cricket Weekly Podcast on the Podcast App or Spotify.

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