David Leggat: Latham still has plenty of work to do

By David Leggat

Tom Latham of New Zealand bats during day three of the First Test match between New Zealand and Bangladesh. Photo / Getty Images.
Tom Latham of New Zealand bats during day three of the First Test match between New Zealand and Bangladesh. Photo / Getty Images.

In case Tom Latham had any ideas that he had done his bit for New Zealand yesterday in their response to Bangladesh's mountainous 595 for eight declared, Ross Taylor will be around to put him right.

Latham anchored New Zealand's response with an impressive 119 not out as it reached 292 for three, and last night senior man Taylor urged the Canterbury left-hander to press on and make his start count today.

"We need him to go big tomorrow and try and get [past] that follow on," Taylor said of the 396 mark.

"Once we do that, hopefully we can bat ourselves into a decent position."

Latham's highest test score is 137, against Pakistan in Dubai in 2014. Perhaps taking a leaf from the National Party's 1980s playbook, Taylor urged Latham to think big.

Only John Wright (12 centuries) and Glenn Turner (seven) sit ahead of Latham in the list of New Zealand's most prolific test openers.

Only Wright (three times) and Latham have made centuries at the Basin for New Zealand since the opening test on the ground in 1929-30, when Stewie Dempster and Jack Mills completed the feat. Eleven visiting openers have done it over the same period.

It's a bizarre statistic but Taylor reckoned the Basin "isn't an easy place to open".
"To go out with that new ball is always going to be one of the hardest periods to bat.

"For him to come out and bat as positively as he did took a lot of pressure off the incoming batsmen. Still, his job's not done."

At 24, Latham's stature within the squad is growing. "In our conditions an opener and a No 3 are very important," Taylor said.

"For a while, apart from Mark Richardson, we've been to-ing and fro-ing with a lot of openers. Tom put his hand up and he's one of the first [players] picked.

"We have a world class No 3 [Kane Williamson] and we've got a consistent opener in Tom.

He's still young but he's earning his stripes in the team and he batted outstandingly well today."

Taylor, in his first test back after his left eye surgery, looked in sparkling touch, too. But at 40 he pulled a short ball straight to mid wicket. He wasn't impressed with that, but admitted he felt good and confident at the crease. "It's too early to say I noticed the difference," he said. "But if you can feel confident when you're batting you get the right results.

"At the start of my innings in the last couple of years I've struggled. Just waiting to bat [I've been] trying to be a bit more stand up and walk around and try to adjust to the light as quick as possible."

It's fair to say he's found the results of that approach are working.

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