RAWALPINDI: If Babar Azam is the go-to man in Pakistan cricket these days, there seems more on the plate for his New Zealand counterpart Tom Latham. The 29-year-old son of former international Rod is a ready-made replacement in any emergency.
In Kane Williamson’s absence, Latham takes over the captaincy. He is always first to raise hand if New Zealand want someone to up the ante with power-hitting and is one guy who never shies away from keeping wickets whenever the appointed gloveman reports injured, the man from Canterbury.
With the other Tom — Blundell — ruled out of all three One-day Internationals at the Pindi Cricket Stadium, Latham will all but set to don the wicket-keeping gloves when the series begins here on Friday.
“It’s always a tough call,” the stand-in New Zealand captain told a virtual news conference on Thursday. “But that is my role in the team despite the fact that every component isn’t that easy. Whether it’s batting, keeping wickets, captaincy or whatever, I’ve enjoyed every role coming way.
“But at the same, I would love to see guys taking up the leading role too. There are a few leaders in our group. As captain I have always tried to instill the confidence side of things into the guys and trust them if they wish to make changes,” Latham, a veteran of 59 Tests, 102 ODIs and 18 T20 Internationals, asserted.
Commenting on the tour so far, the left-handed Latham was a satisfied man.
“It has been building up nicely over the past couple of weeks in Bangladesh. I felt we did quite well over there [where the hosts won the T20 rubber 3-2] and adapted quite well to the unfamiliar conditions.
“Obviously, we didn’t get the desire result [of winning the series] but still the guys enjoyed the experience in tough conditions for batting.
“Hopefully, we’ll hit the ground and running tomorrow [Friday] because adapting to the Pakistan conditions had gone well thus far. I feel the conditions are different to what we saw in Dhaka. I am expecting that the fast bowlers will make an impact in this series and the batters to get decent scores.”
Latham — who enjoys the highest winning ratio of any New Zealand captain in ODIs with 91.66 after emerging victorious in 11 out of 13 matches — said captaincy is no burden for him.
“I don’t see that as added pressure. The great thing I find about captaincy is about trying to execute my role [as the leader] in the best possible way. And not just that, it’s a responsibility which drives to do best — whether it is batting and playing my role in the middle order or leading the side and then of course, wicket-keeping!” the New Zealand skipper concluded.
Published in Dawn, September 17th, 2021