Is Latham’s glove af­fair over?

Waikato Times - - Sport - RICHARD KNOWLER

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.’’

PHOTO: PHOTOSPORT

Tom Latham is the most ex­pe­ri­enced wick­et­keep­ing op­tion for New Zealand in India.

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