New Zealand stand-in captain Tom Latham is all set to lead a young New Zealand side against Bangladesh in the upcoming five-match T20I series. Latham, who last played a T20I in November 2019, stated that the upcoming series presents a great opportunity for the players to make a mark.
Tom Latham is ready to lead an inexperienced New Zealand side against Bangladesh, in the absence of regular skipper Kane Williamson and other senior players. Latham last played a T20I in 2017, while his last T20 at the domestic level came for Canterbury in the 2019 Super Smash, when he scored 110 off 60 against the Central Districts.
Latham stated that it was a great honor to lead the side, while also pointing out the difficult conditions in Bangladesh.
"It is a really big honour to lead the side from a T20 point of view. Obviously, I haven't played for a long time," Latham stated. "The way the world is at the moment, what NZC is doing for player welfare, it has presented an opportunity for a lot of the guys, including myself. We know things won't be easy over here looking at the Australia series.
"As a leader, you are always looking to grow and improve. This format presents another opportunity. I have had captaincy experience in the past. This is a slightly younger group. There's a bit of experience here, so I will try to lean on those guys as much as possible. I will be behind the stumps as well."
With a second-string side at his disposal, Latham is confident that the team is ready to take the challenge and explained how this was a great opportunity for most of the inexperienced players.
Prior to their arrival in Bangladesh, the team had a total of five outdoor training sessions and practiced in spin-favouring conditions during the two winter camps in Mount Maunganui and Lincoln. Latham also stated that the team had undergone a good amount of training over the past few days.
"Most of the guys have experience at this level before,’’ Latham stated. "Couple of guys haven't been in the squad before, it is exciting for them to get in the group and try to keep things as relaxed as possible.’’
"We had really good training over the past five days. We will finish off our final preparations today. We have been well looked after in Bangladesh. There has been a good vibe around the group.
"The guys are looking forward to getting stuck in cricket. We have had two camps, so from a preparation point of view, it has been a long time. Everyone is pretty excited to get going tomorrow," he added.
Even though Bangladesh are favorites to win the series, given their recent performance against Australia, and the familiarity with the pitch conditions, the 29-year-old is optimistic that his boys can excel against the hosts.
"It is pretty easy to motivate yourself when playing for the country," he said. "I personally haven't had a lot of opportunities in T20s, so it is exciting. Even for the other guys,’’ he said.
"Most of the guys have played T20s for New Zealand but probably not as much as they would like to. We have to enjoy ourselves out there and stick to a brand of cricket that we believe can be successful in these conditions. Our goal is to win the series."
Latham remarked that his side was able to understand the pitch conditions, and identify the possible challenges while batting, after having followed the recent Australia series.
"We are preparing for wickets that Australia faced about a month ago. We had some really good camps in New Zealand. We have to play on a surface that will be a lot more challenging than what we expect,’’ he stated.
Latham also asserted that the team had already made plans to deal with Mustafizur Rahman, who was in prime form against Australia.
"Mustafiz at the top of the innings, is renowned for his slower balls," Latham, who has never played in Bangladesh, but has scored plenty of runs against them in New Zealand, said. "We saw how he bowled against Australia. The spinners at the top and through the middle will present the challenges. We are looking forward to facing them tomorrow,’’ said Latham.
The first T20I is will be played on September 1 in Dhaka.