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Tom Latham- The Quiet Hero Of New Zealand Who Often Goes Unnoticed

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Tom Latham’s Test stats warrant an honest examination, true to the simple and staid fashion in which the left-hander goes on to collect his runs.
A few hours ago, New Zealand opener Tom Latham fired his eleventh Test hundred. While the Hamilton pitch might have played well into the hands of the batsmen, it wasn’t all that easy. Can it ever be, when one faces a combined attack of the likes of Stuart Broad, Chris Woakes, Jofra Archer and Ben Stokes?

But one man went about collecting runs in true calm Kiwi fashion.

In all, Tom Latham went on to gather 123 runs for his team and through a dogged first inning effort, ensured that his side gave England a lot of runs to chase and put a lead against.
Purely, from a New Zealand perspective, Tom Latham’s Test stats by virtue of his effort in the game didn’t seem mind-boggling, but there was something that stood apart.
Latham took it upon himself to do the bulk of the scoring. His opening partner, Jeet Raval, went quickly for 5. Captain Williamson didn’t have the best gathering, walking with a single-digit score. Moreover, there was no Grandhomme in the side as well.
But an early assurance toward setting a respectable first-inning score came at the back of Tom Latham’s bat.
While Daryl Mitchell, Ross Taylor, and BJ Watling all contributed fifties, Tom Latham’s stay at the crease was the longest and by far, the most drain-inducing for the English bowlers.
While to many, the most dazzling outcome from the Test by virtue of Joe Root’s double hundred, but if there was someone who gently added the tempo for his side in a contest where there were lots of runs scored, then it was Tom Latham.
And that’s the thing about Tom Latham isn’t it? Perhaps he is so engrossed in weaving the story, so content in stitching partnerships, plying his craft into steadying an inning- much importantly when a repair is needed- that it doesn’t strike us who the author of the tale is?

Why Tom Latham’s Test stats warrant respectTom Latham's Test stats

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Just like it may not have struck us that 3 years back in time, Tom Latham Test Stats produced an identical score.
While he may have batted against Zimbabwe, back in 2016 during the First Test at Bulawayo- way before Zimbabwean Cricket even plunged to his worst lows as having been suspended from the ICC, before being redrafted again- Tom Latham was at it again.
Batting with a sense of sincerity and simplicity- comforting tools that define most Kiwi batsmen- Tom Latham produced what was his fourth Test ton. He made 105.
But truth be told, three years on from that effort that yielded an innings victory for his team, we have in front of us what can be called a vastly different outcome.
His 105 in 2016 came off 209 balls, laced with 12 boundaries. Surely, Latham wasn’t against giant oppressors in the Test arena. But this time around, his 105, an identical score came off just 172 balls. Back then, he occupied the crease for 308 minutes while facing a pure Test specialist in Broad and an army of stars that can wreak havoc, the leftie was more fluent and driven by a purpose.

It then also largely highlights a standalone difference.

Back then, there was the comfort of having Martin Guptill, someone with a wealth of experience and scores as his partner, this time, Latham didn’t even have the luxury of seeking support from a pure match-winner in Williamson, there being no sign of Guptill either.
Abstaining from ducking under the pressure of facing Broad and a genuine wicket-taker in Woakes, there was nothing untoward about Latham; who was all focus.
Tom Latham’s Test stats may not leave you gasping for breath or reeling in admiration. But it’s the quiet, often unnoticed beauty in his efforts that prove he’s come a long way, that warrant your attention.

Need further clues?

Tom Latham's Test stats
Latham is a class act (Sach Kahoon)

It’s almost as if in Latham, New Zealand have a quiet warrior who loves to endure. Last year, suddenly despite Williamson and Taylor being in great form- two seniors he still has around him- when Latham went all nuts- for it couldn’t be put in any other way- dismantling Sri Lanka with his 264, he didn’t just score his career-best. He remained undefeated.
It’s the minute not minor, career-defining not awe-inspiring intricacies about Tom Latham that often miss our attention.
From 2017 onward, Latham has gone onto collect over 1600 Test runs, that’s nearly half of his entire Test tally. In a space of batting for 31 innings, Tom Latham’s Test stats have witnessed an aggregate of 6 hundreds and 4 fifties.
It then also largely tells of something you may have missed in front of the brutal stroke-play of the likes of Martin Guptill and Colin Munro.
At a time where someone like a Guptill commands much of our attention, thanks to a natural penchant for big striking in 50-over cricket, where Munro dazzle our attention for freely swatting aside the ball in the shortest format, Tom Latham’s steady progress is the big, perhaps more attention-deserving story.
Like most openers of the past who batted with flair and power, the likes of Mark Greatbatch and Nathan Astle being early purveyors of New Zealand’s uncomplicated brand of cricket, Tom Latham’s consistent exploits might seem small on the scale of fireworks but instil a bright sense of confidence in the skill-set that modern Kiwi batsmen possess.
They also offer more thrust to a batting set-up and bring reliability to a batting core whose master and commander is still Kane Williamson. But with the deputies of the flair of Latham- genuine timers of the ball on either side, and able stitchers of an inning, it appears that Kane Williamson’s gallery is full of troops who can act as marshalls too, when desired, at the end of the day.

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