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‘We’re still riding McCullum’s wave!’: Tom Latham claims he has inside info on England’s key duo

If anyone has an idea of ​​how the plan could play out during the Ben Stokes-Brendon McCullum era of English Test cricket, it could be Tom Latham. Listen to him for half an hour and you realize how aligned his attitudes are.

A dozen years ago, he spent his first few months out of school with Stokes at Durham Academy. The couple was 18 but, in typical fashion, Stokes the doer wasn’t hanging around. Chosen for the first team in April, he was never seen again.

Fast-forward to 2014 and there was Latham on his third morning of Test cricket in Wellington, standing in the crease with New Zealand in deep crisis, 194 runs delayed and three second-innings wickets, as McCullum came out to save things. against India. . For McCullum’s first hour and a quarter, and New Zealand’s only three hundred, he was company.

New Zealand's Tom Latham claims to have inside information on England duo Stokes and McCullum

New Zealand’s Tom Latham claims to have inside information on England duo Stokes and McCullum

Of his first meeting with Stokes, Latham said: ‘Paul Wiseman, our net coach for Canterbury, was playing at Durham at the time and because of that there was a little exchange that started to happen.

‘Personally, it was a great experience for me, the first year out of school, getting used to these conditions. I played club cricket at the weekend and for the academy during the week. it was great

“Ben was actually playing first team stuff then, but I played again for Durham for a couple of seasons in 2017 and 2018 and he played a bit of domestic cricket with me at Canterbury, so I’ve seen what a fantastic player and leader he is and I’m sure it will get those guys going in the right direction.

‘It will be a kind of captain follow me. He is someone who does weird things with the bat and the ball, he has a lot of experience internationally and in different parts of the world and he said the other day that he still wanted to be himself, and I firmly believe he will be. . He has put in some amazing performances on the cricket field and I am sure he will continue now that he is a leader.

There is a reluctance to divulge the secrets of what McCullum did to catalyze New Zealand Test cricket during his tenure as captain from 2013-16, although Latham suggests the change came about through simplistic methods: certain players were backed and they were asked to take charge of their performances.

1653188725 728 Were still riding McCullums wave Tom Latham claims he has

Ben Stokes and Latham played for the Durham academy before meeting later in their careers.

Ben Stokes and Latham played for the Durham academy before meeting later in their careers.

“I was lucky enough to play a little bit with Brendon in the latter part of his career and the direction he took us in was exciting,” Latham said.

“The sheer belief that he had was what made you want to back him from a player standpoint. He had a lot of experience at that stage, but getting the team moving in the right direction was really important to our group.

“At home, he’s famous for what he did for us and it’s exciting for English cricket to have someone like that take over.” It’s exciting to see where they can go.

‘Our team is definitely still on the journey that he started. You’re always trying to find ways to improve as a team, whether it’s on or off the field.

“But a lot of the main things that he brought, we carry on today, so that’s the legacy that he left behind.”

Latham played with Brendon McCullum (pictured) towards the latter stages of his career.

Latham played with Brendon McCullum (pictured) towards the latter stages of his career.

Essentially, New Zealand batsmen were asked to score runs and transfer pressure to the opposition whenever possible, for bowlers to be versatile enough to change plans in finding wickets, and for fielders to be fully committed. to take risks and stop limits. It had the desired effect. And a durable one. Last June, in the absence of Kane Williamson through injury, Latham captained New Zealand to their historic series-clinching win over England at Edgbaston. They hadn’t won here for 22 years.

Within days, courtesy of defeating India in Southampton, they were the inaugural Test Cricket world champions. And phlegmatic too.

“We understand that cricket is a fickle game and some days it’s not going to be your day, other days it will be,” Latham said.

“So we all try to play our roles to the best of our ability, and if we do it consistently, the results will come.

Tom Latham lifts the trophy after New Zealand won the series against England last year

Tom Latham lifts the trophy after New Zealand won the series against England last year

‘Winning the first World Test Championship was an amazing result. It’s judged over a two-year period and the consistency we had over that period was the most important thing for us.”

However, New Zealand’s title defense hangs in the balance after their record 17-game unbeaten run at home ended earlier this year. Bangladesh’s surprise victory meant that the January series was shared, as was the one that followed against South Africa in February.

They head into next month’s three-test series, starting at Lord’s on June 2, sitting sixth in the standings.

But with the kind of authentic credentials that England wants to copy once again. Having openly used the Kiwi squad to address their zero moment in limited overs cricket in 2015, they are turning to the man who implemented things on the pitch to orchestrate another revival.

And as he acknowledged a nation with a budget and playing numbers as small as New Zealand’s, Latham added: “I guess it’s a cool thing when teams try to emulate what you’ve done.”

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