With his unbeaten century on the first day of New Zealand’s second Test against England at Hamiton, Tom Latham confirmed himself as among the most inform Test batsmen in the world.
In an era where opening the batting has supposedly never been harder, Latham is in the midst of a long-running purple patch in which he has established himself as one of, if not the, best opening batsman in Test cricket currently. Since the start of 2017, Latham has the highest batting average (59.92) among opening batsmen, (min. 10 Tests), with the second highest in that time period – Shikhar Dhawan (44.78) – a full 15 runs per dismissal lower.
Latham has now hit five hundreds (including one double) in his last 10 Test innings, and three in 2019 alone. Only Kane Williamson (four and five in 2014 and 2015 respectively) and Brendon McCullum (four in 2014) have scored more for New Zealand in a calendar year. Since the start of the 2018/19 New Zealand home summer, Latham has more runs, more hundreds, and faced more balls than anyone else in Test cricket. Even Steve Smith, rated by many as the second best Test batsman of all time, has an inferior record, dismissed as often in that time period but scoring 175 runs fewer.
Latham’s overall numbers stack up against the very best too. His average of 45.69 opening the batting is the highest in New Zealand’s Test history (min. 10 Tests), while his home average of 52.72 is the fifth-highest average for an opening batsman in Tests held in New Zealand (min. five Tests). Only Herschelle Gibbs, Chris Gayle, Graeme Smith and Gordon Greenidge average more facing the new ball in the country. Only Sir Alastair Cook, David Warner and Azhar Ali average more than Latham opening the batting this decade (min. five Tests).
He is the second-highest ranked opening batsman in the world according to the ICC rankings. He’s eight one spot behind Dimuth Karunaratne and is now 10th on the list of New Zealand’s all-time runscorers in Test cricket. Of those in the top 10, only Williamson, Ross Taylor and Martin Crowe average more than his 44.88.