An important few weeks lie ahead for New Zealand batsman Tom Latham.

The Canterbury lefthander has been endorsed as first cab off the rank to replace Brendon McCullum at the top of the ODI order when the New Zealand skipper leaves the international game late next month. He's already Martin Guptill's opening partner in tests.

Captain-in-waiting Kane Williamson has been earmarked to open for the T20 side against Sri Lanka next week. Whether that is a long-term arrangement remains to be seen. There's a world T20 to consider in India in March.

But Latham knows what is needed. "If I can keep putting the numbers on the board, then hopefully those selection things will take care of themselves," he said.


Latham has made a fine fist of test cricket since starting as an opener in the Caribbean in 2014, having made his debut in the middle order against India in Wellington that same year.

As a test opener, he is averaging 41.1 and is locked in at the top.

So what about the shorter forms?

He says he has not changed his game at all from the five-day to 50-over versions.

"For me, it's about playing good cricket shots and not slogging. You've got to come to the bowlers a little bit more and try and get them to bowl into your areas, but I wouldn't say I've changed my game at all," he said.

His ODI numbers are impressive when opening.

His average is 44.66 - 13 runs higher than his overall ODI average - suggesting that it is his natural role, although his strike rate of 79.17 could do with a boost. Certainly he wants to stay at the top of the order.

"I definitely want to be opening. It's a position that suits my game.

"If I can bat time and play good cricket shots, depending who's at the other end, hopefully we can get the team off to a good start."

He is developing a relationship with Guptill too.

"We've done that a lot in the past, we've batted together in one-day stuff in South Africa [last year]. It's been reasonably successful.

"Hopefully we can keep turning it on each game."

Latham reckons there's no change in the dynamic for the pair when they switch between the forms. And he is adamant he takes no special motivation from the impending departure of McCullum, particularly from the one-day game.

"I wouldn't say it's motivating, I think it's important for me to go out and play my game and let those selection things take care of itself.

"Keep putting the numbers on the board and hopefully you make the selectors pick you."