20 Mar 2017

Black Caps stick with Latham for third Test

2:35 pm on 20 March 2017

Embattled Black Caps opener Tom Latham has been given a reprieve with his selection for the third and final cricket Test against South Africa in Hamilton, starting on Saturday.

Despite the eight wicket capitulation in the second Test at the Basin Reserve, the New Zealand selectors have opted to keep the same squad for the Hamilton Test, where the home side must win if they are to level the series.

New Zealand will still be without their most experienced batsman, with Ross Taylor still sidelined with a calf injury.

But opening bowler Trent Boult has been included and is expected to be over the groin injury that kept him out of the second Test.

Latham has had six innings against South Africa this year - three in the one-dayers and three in the Tests.

The Black Caps (New Zealand) lost to South Africa's Proteas in the second test match 19/3/17

Tom Latham Photo: Photosport NZ

Only once has he got to double figures, while his other scores have been 0, 2, 0, 8 and 6.

But selector Gavin Larsen said they had "100 percent faith" in Latham.

"It's obvious he's battling a little bit ... but he's a classy player. He's scored six Test hundreds and he's averaging a shade under 40. We haven't had too many openers who have done that. So that's why we are showing faith in Tommy.

"Internally I'm sure that he's feeling it. Anyone would when you go through a rut like he's encountering at the moment, but he will do everything he can between now and the first ball on Saturday to get himself in the right shape to score runs."

Larsen said if there were other opening batting candidates who were "shooting the lights out and putting in front of the selectors really compelling reasons to pick them, then we would have had that discussion [about dropping Latham]".

"So I guess that's a challenge from me to domestic batsmen - 'get out there and put the numbers up'."

With the Hamilton pitch expected to offer plenty of turn for the spinners, it's likely left arm spinner Mitch Santner - who was left out of the Wellington playing 11 - will return at the expense of medium pacer Colin de Grandhomme.

Squad: Kane Williamson (captain), Tom Latham, Jeet Raval, Neil Broom, Henry Nicholls, Jimmy Neesham, BJ Watling, Mitchell Santner, Colin de Grandhomme, Tim Southee, Jeetan Patel, Neil Wagner, Trent Boult, Matt Henry.