Latham receives vote of confidenceSave
By David Leggat
As calls grew louder for out-of-sorts opener Tom Latham to be axed for New Zealand's final match of the summer, he received solid support from his batting coach today.
Lefthander Latham made an error of judgment in New Zealand's second innings tumble against South Africa at the Basin Reserve on Saturday, pushing out at a widish ball from seamer Morne Morkel to be caught behind for six.
He wasn't the Lone Ranger in that, but it gave him just 24 runs from three innings in the tests, ahead of a match New Zealand must win at Hamilton's Seddon Park to square the series and end the summer with a smile.
Add in that in his seven ODI innings since a Boxing Day century against Bangladesh in Christchurch, Latham has mustered just 35 runs, of which 22 came in one innings.
All up it's 59 runs in his last 10 international innings. No question Latham is in a rut.
Yet he's scored six test tons, averages 38.64 and is a highly-regarded player and member of the leadership group.
"He's going through a bit of a tough patch," batting coach Craig McMillan said today. "We know what a quality player he is, in perhaps the toughest position in the batting order. He's done well for long periods.
"It's about getting him back to basics, about getting him back to making good decisions."
Yesterday's shot was an example of the malaise in the batting group, where a string of poor decisions were made at the crease, effectively throwing away the test in the space of two sessions.
McMillan was preaching the need for batting smarts, and being patient.
"Good sides give you less to hit. They give you more good balls you've got to defend, make life more difficult and challenge a lot of areas.
"All our guys need to make sure they are true and disciplined to their game plans."
Latham isn't going anywhere - McMillan reinforced the best players in the country are in the test squad - and expect him to be encouraged, if perhaps with fingers discreetly crossed behind backs, to find a ladder out of the hole he's in at Seddon Park.