Captain expects pitches in Pakistan to allow seamers to have a bigger role than they did in Bangladesh
Stand-in captain. Wicketkeeper. Middle-order accumulator. Middle-order power-hitter. Tom Latham had to juggle with multiple responsibilities in the recently concluded T20I series in Bangladesh. With Tom Blundell suffering a quad injury during that T20I series, Latham confirmed that he would continue to keep wicket in the ODI series in Pakistan. Latham embraced the additional roles, saying the other seniors in the group have eased the pressure off him.
“Each facet has had its difficulties, but that’s my role in the side,” Latham said during a virtual media interaction. “It’s important whether it’s batting it’s adapting to the situation, whereas from the captaincy point of view… we’re lucky we have a few leaders in the group and have tried to instill a bit of confidence into the guys and I trust them if they want to make changes, so yeah it has been an enjoyable time so far. Obviously, we quite didn’t get the series win that we wanted in Bangladesh, but the guys have been building really nicely over the last couple of weeks, adapting to conditions [in Bangladesh] and we’ve been doing the same here, adapting to conditions in Pakistan, so hopefully we can hit the ground running tomorrow.
“I have my role in the middle order and it’s about trying to execute that role as best as possible. The role that I’m in is a slightly different one where you could be in a lot of different situations, so just trying to adapt to that as best as possible and work with the partner and work with the group – whether it’s putting a score on the board or chasing a score down. I certainly don’t see it [captaincy] as added pressure, so it’s just about trying to execute my role as best as possible.”
The spinners dominated in Dhaka, getting sharp turn and bounce, even with the new ball. If New Zealand’s early training sessions in Rawalpindi, are anything to go by, the seamers might have a bigger role to play in Pakistan. So said Latham.
“Yeah, obviously in Bangladesh, the surfaces dictated the sort of variations that the bowlers needed to bowl whereas potentially here, we’re a little bit unsure – we haven’t played in these conditions before. For us, it’s about trying to adapt to the conditions and try to think on our feet a little bit and obviously we have some good fast bowlers in our group and they probably enjoyed seeing the ball go through a little bit more than what it did in Bangladesh. I’m sure they will be excited to get into the game tomorrow like we all will be.”
In addition to being the holders of the inaugural World Test Championship, New Zealand are also the No.1-ranked team in ODIs. Latham downplayed New Zealand’s top ranking, shifting the focus to the job at hand in Pakistan. This series, however, is not part of the World Cup Super League and will instead be played as a standalone bilateral series.
“It’s obviously nice for the group to be recognised as that [No.1 ODI side], but for us it’s just a byproduct of us going out and executing our game plan and trying to do our roles as best as possible,” Latham said. “We certainly don’t look at those things as a driver and just about trying to enjoy what we do out in the middle. The group has been really enjoying their cricket till date, especially in Bangladesh, and I know the guys are really excited to get into the one-day series in Pakistan. If we can apply pressure for long enough, then hopefully that’ll give us a good chance of winning the game but also winning the series ahead.”
Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo