Latham will return to scene of international debut nine years ago for Bangladesh opener
Tom Latham used to play rugby with his older brother Matt while growing up and quite naturally his childhood dream was to become an All Black. However, around the time he was picked in New Zealand’s Under-19 side, he fully committed to becoming a Black Cap and next week in Dunedin, Latham will mark his 100th ODI appearance by captaining the team for their series opener against Bangladesh.
It was in Dunedin that Latham had also made his ODI debut, against Zimbabwe in 2012, under the captaincy of Brendon McCullum.
“Personally, to play my first game down in Dunedin and also my 100th is going to be pretty cool,” Latham said, looking ahead to the landmark. “Great to be able to play one game for New Zealand, but to be able to play 100 is pretty special. My family and wife have come down, so it will be nice to celebrate that down there. Some of the guys in that squad – the likes of Jacob Oram, Natham McCullum, Baz (Brendon McCullum), and a lot of names you look at now and I watched those guys growing up. To play with them and carry on playing is pretty special.
Latham, 19 then, had started off in shaky fashion before making a middle-order cameo in a 90-run victory for New Zealand.
“I was pretty nervy – I was on none off six I think, and then managed to get one through the covers and as I ran my spikes went from under me, so I sort of face-planted a little bit,” Latham recalled. “So, some fond memories and we managed to win that series, which was nice. So, fingers crossed, we can play well this series and we can win this series too.”
New Zealand’s regular captain Kane Williamson has been sidelined from the Bangladesh ODI series with an elbow injury, and in his absence, Latham said, they won’t tinker too much and will attempt to continue to build on the good work done under Williamson.
New Zealand will head into the Bangladesh series on the back of a hard-fought 3-2 T20I triumph over Australia, and though they will be without the injured trio of Williamson, Lockie Ferguson and Colin de Grandhomme, Latham was particularly excited at the additions of Will Young, Daryl Mitchell and Devon Conway to the ODI side. All three newcomers have displayed strong form in the domestic competitions across formats.
“Obviously, disappointing for Kane to miss out with an elbow injury, but you know for me it’s about continuing what Kane has been doing,” Latham said. “I’ve done a fair amount of it [captaincy] over the last couple of seasons and from a leadership point of view it’s great we’re lucky we have such a good side with so many leaders in the group.
“It’s awesome to have new guys in that squad that haven’t played… I guess the best thing about the three guys is they’re coming off form in all different formats throughout the last couple of weeks. So, that’s an exciting thing that these guys have been picked on form and if they get their opportunities and fingers crossed they can take it. It’s always nice when new guys come in and make their debuts.”
New Zealand haven’t played ODIs for a year – their last match was behind closed doors last March at the SCG before the tour was aborted due to the Covid-19 pandemic – and they have only had four 50-over matches since the 2019 World Cup final. Latham, though, felt that the 50-over Ford Trophy had tuned them up for the upcoming ODI series.
“It’s pretty exciting to have one-day cricket back with the Black Caps,” he said. “Obviously, we haven’t played for a long time as a group together and it’s a small sample of one-day cricket this summer here in New Zealand. So, I’m sure the guys will be ready to go and will be looking forward to getting into it on Saturday.
“It’s been a perfect preparation for everyone involved. There are a slight few changes from the T20 squad, but you know [we’ve] been playing the Ford Trophy, which has been great and obviously the guys have come up with some good T20 form against Australia as well.”
The Ford Trophy ended last week with Latham cracking Matt Fisher to the right of point with a signature back-foot cut to seal Canterbury’s 15th one-day title and first since 2016-17. The revelry will continue for Latham as he is set to reach a more significant milestone on March 20.
Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo