18 Dec 2018

Cricket: Latham unaware of mounting milestones

8:26 am on 18 December 2018

Record breaking Black Caps opener Tom Latham was unaware of the milestones he was surpassing on his way to an unbeaten 264 in New Zealand's first innings of 578 in the first test against Sri Lanka in Wellington.

Latham's innings was a world record for an opener carrying their bat through a completed innings and was the sixth highlest total by a New Zealand player in a test.

He was just the second New Zealander to carry his bat in a test innings.

Glenn Turner achieved the feat twice in his career against England at Lord's in 1969 and again in 1972 against the West Indies in Jamaica.

Tom Latham walks off the Basin Reserve after his record breaking innings of 264 not out.

Tom Latham walks off the Basin Reserve after his record breaking innings of 264 not out. Photo: Photosport

The left-hander was concentration personified as he built on the century he completed on Sunday and brought up his double with a controlled push onto the leg side for a single.

He immediately broke into a grin as he trotted through to complete the run and become the 15th New Zealand batsman to score a Test double century and first since Ross Taylor's 290 against Australia in November, 2015 in Perth.

Brendon McCullum's 302, on the same ground against India in 2014, is the highest score by a New Zealander.

Latham said he had no thought of the records that were falling as he occupied the crease for most of the second and third days.

"I had no idea around that sort of stuff but, when you pick those sort of things off, it's very nice, I'm sure, later on in life," he said.

Since making 177 in early 2017 against Bangladesh, Latham he has scored a total of 488 runs in 19 innings at an average of 27.11, almost 10 runs lower than his career average.

In that period, he passed 50 just four times.

Latham said it was pleasing to put a really competitive total on the board.

"Those milestones are nice, though they're not the milestones you look to get. I'm more happy about the team doing really well as a batting unit, to come from the (UAE, where NZ beat Pakistan in their recent Test series) to these batting conditions and to put up a really good score is very pleasing."

Latham played the anchor role on Sunday to a fluent captain Kane Williamson and continued to accumulate on Monday as the rest of the line-up took a more- aggressive approach.

The Black Caps were bowled out for 578 to hold a 296-run first-innings lead, about an hour before stumps.

Tom Latham 264 not out on the scoreboard on Day 3 of the first cricket test. New Zealand Black Caps v Sri Lanka. Basin Reserve, Wellington, New Zealand. Monday 17 December 2018 © Copyright photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.nz

Photo: Photosport

Tom Southee and Trent Boult reduced the visitors to 20-3 at stumps.

Kusal Mendis (5no) and Angelo Mathews (2no) will try to avoid an innings loss inside four days at the Basin Reserve.

Turner said given that Latham had been out of form in recent times and the amount of one day and Twenty20 cricket played it makes Latham's achievement all the more remarkable.

"Being able to bat sessions being able to bat time and the concentration levels needed for that - particularly since he hadn't occupied the crease for great periods of time leading into the match makes it all the better for him."

Latham's innings surpassed former England international Alastair Cook's total as the highest score for a batsman carrying his bat in an innings.

Cook made 244 against Australia at Melbourne in December 2017 surpassing the previous best by Turner who made 223 not out against the West Indies in 1972.

If New Zealand can claim a two nil series win it would move them up to second on the world test rankings.