Is Latham’s glove affair over?
Black Caps coach Mike Hesson will wait until the jet lag subsides before declaring whether Tom Latham should surrender the wicketkeeping gloves for the upcoming one-day cricket internationals in India.
Chief selector Hesson has already said Latham will no longer open the batting with him expected to drop down the order to five or six, probably to allow power-hitter Colin Munro to partner Martin Guptill at the top of the order for the three ODIs.
Tom Blundell, Tim Seifert and Glenn Phillips, all capable keepers with NZ A on tour in India, are options to replace Latham.
The question is whether it is worth the risk to replace a man, who has had more exposure to the pressure of playing internationals behind the wickets, on the subcontinent.
‘‘Tom is certainly the most experienced of those keepers, the other three are still very much developing,’’ Hesson, who flew out with nine NZ squad members to India yesterday, acknowledged.
‘‘We have got some good intel on the ground over there at the moment, a number of people are providing us some regular feedback and they will make some decisions in the coming days.’’
Latham confirmed he was keen to continue his work with the gloves, and given he will no longer be required to open the batting the switch in roles may benefit him in terms of that job in the field.
Hesson, who will fill the other six spots in the ODI squad from the NZ A team, didn’t think the prospect of starting an inexperienced keeper against the Indians would be a risk.
‘‘I don’t think we will be experimenting. I think the beauty of the New Zealand A side, is that whoever we select will be up to speed and certainly had some recent experience in those conditions.’’
The idea of shunting Latham down the order has merit; when he previously played in India as an opener he coped with the spin bowlers, which will be even more important if he bats down the order. The change in job description means Latham, who started his international career in the middle order, will have to adjust his tactical awareness, given the aim will be to stick around until the end of the innings.
‘‘I guess that is the beauty of batting in the middle order,’’ he said. ‘‘You don’t necessarily know what situation you are going to come into. In India you have to be adaptable to the conditions as well, in terms of conditions and who is bowling.’’
Hesson said the decision to look at using Munro and Guptill to open the batting against the world’s top-ranked team, starting in Mumbai on October 22, was simple. He wants to ‘‘generate a strike-rate at the top’’.
‘‘It would be fair to say Martin [Guptill]) and Tom, although they have had some really good performances individually, they haven’t really clicked at the top and certainly haven’t generated a strikerate as a pair that we would like.’’
Meanwhile, Hesson indicated Mitch McClenaghan wouldn’t be considered for the T20 squad to will play three games after the three ODIs.
McClenaghan gave up his NZ Cricket contract to play in a South African tournament, but that has since been canned.
‘‘We have already selected our squad before this happened. Mitch, I think, will be available but as I said the remainder of the squad will be selected from the NZ A squad.’’
Tom Latham is the most experienced wicketkeeping option for New Zealand in India.