Plunket Shield at the start of the season was “great for the guys to get into that mode of the longer form,” says Latham
After their 2-0 series win over the Caribbean, New Zealand bolstered their chances of reaching the final of the World Test Championship. But while Tom Latham, who commanded them in the second Test in the absence of Kane Williamson, is excited about that “possibility,” he wants the side to look too far and focus on the upcoming Pakistan series – which starts on Friday with three T20Is , followed by two Tests – instead.
New Zealand (62.5%) is currently third on the WTC score – behind Australia (82.2%) and India (75.0%). If they defeat Pakistan as well by 2-0, they will push India to face favorites Australia at Lord’s next year. What worked in favor of New Zealand is that they play Pakistan at home as well, and would no longer travel to Bangladesh due to the Covid-19-forced schedule.
“I guess that’s the way with the schedule of the Test Championship right now,” Latham said after the win in the second Test against the Caribbean. “In our conditions, we certainly know how to play in these conditions, which is great. Whatever team we face, we are certainly ready to learn behind the previous performances. Looking forward to Pakistan in a week – new opposition, different challenges, so it is important to adapt.
“For now we will enjoy this victory and then we will change [focus] to Pakistan. I think the beauty of this group is that we focus on every game at the same time, every series at the same time. When you look too far away, sometimes you may be caught a little. So our focus will shift to Pakistan and then whatever happens after that, then we will approach. The goal at the start of the Test Championship was to reach the final, and if we play well and give ourselves a chance, that might be an option. “
Just as coach Gary Stead did after the first Test, Latham called the side’s performance “clinical” as New Zealand finished the second Test on the fourth morning to record their second consecutive win. He also said that playing Plunket Shield at the beginning of the home season helped the players enter the slot for Test cricket.
“Clinic is probably the word to use again, I think,” Latham said. “The way we were able to arrange the game here, in the raincoat with the bat, on Henry’s back [Nicholls] innings were outstanding. Insert first, put 460 on the board was prominent. We’re talking about from the batting point of view that your first inning is great and in these conditions, putting a score like that on the board was great and behind that we were able to do the job with the ball. Putting a team to bat twice in two Test matches was not easy for the bowlers according to their body’s requirements, but they kept coming back and doing the job with the ball yesterday and today, which was outstanding. So yes, I think clinical is probably a good usable word.
“I think we’re lucky to start our first-class season with four rounds of Plunket Shield, which is great for the guys to get into that mode of the longer form of the game. Nice testimonial for the guys who came back from the IPL , the way they were able to adapt quickly to this format.I think that nowadays in international cricket, you need the ability to adapt as quickly as possible, whatever that format is.The way they were able to adapt to this format, it was great. The guys will quickly transition to T20s in a few days and then we will have to get back to the red ball stuff. So, yes, the ability to switch back and forth is crucial in international cricket nowadays. “
In both Tests, New Zealand came in with a four-point speed attack where Kyle Jamieson joined the tried trio of Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Neil Wagner. Jamieson finished the series as the second highest wicket with 11 strikes from two outings. In the first Test, he also won his inaugural Test half a century ago. His versatile performance meant he was named Player of the Series.
“His contribution has been outstanding,” Latham said. “In the short Test career he has had so far, he has come and succeeded immediately. He is a guy who is always ready to learn, always ready to pick the brains of other guys in the group, which is outstanding. this year with a few new skills is a testament to himself and he fully deserves to be the Player of the Series.
“I think his record probably says it [that he is an allrounder] and if he is able to do that with a ball and a bat, which is good for our side. He obviously did it with the ball at first, and then the performance he did with the bat in the first Test was great and for us, if we can have contributions in order, as many as possible, that’s obviously good. Like I said, he’s a guy who wants to learn, wants to put the yards into the training and I’m sure he’ll continue to work hard on that aspect of his game. “