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Latham can emerge from 'rut': Larsen

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 20/03/2017

Run-starved opener Tom Latham can bat his way out of a slump, believes New Zealand selector Gavin Larsen.

The lack of batting output from the team's Test allrounders against South Africa is another problem altogether.

Larsen says while Colin de Grandhomme, James Neesham and Mitchell Santner have let nobody down with their bowling through the first two Tests against the Proteas, their batting has fallen short.

A lack of technique has been exposed, leaving wicketkeeper BJ Watling propping up a fragile tail.

The result? No team score beyond 350 in each of the first two Tests and a 1-0 series deficit heading into the decider starting in Hamilton on Saturday.

Santner is expected to be recalled on a spin-friendly Seddon Park with both de Grandhomme and Neesham under pressure to retain their spots.

Larsen admits the lack of runs has been a frustration.

"It's one of the elephants in the room. They'd be the first to admit their run output hasn't been good enough," he said.

"One of the reasons you play a couple of allrounders, is to stiffen up the batting. It didn't quite transpire that way. There's work to do and we must get greater run production through that area."

Another glaring problem has been Latham's miserable form, having been found severely wanting by the tourists' new ball attack in both the Tests and one-day internationals.

Larsen has full faith in the 24-year-old, whose meritorious Test average has dipped below 40.

"We have 100 per cent faith in Tom Latham. He's in a rut, there's no doubt about that, and he's battling with his form," Larsen said.

"But if you sit down and analyse what he's achieved in red ball cricket, it's excellent. We believe he's got the character and work ethic to work his way out of this."

Latham's pedigree and a lack of viable replacements meant finding a new opening partner for the in-form Jeet Raval was never considered.

"Around domestic cricket, there aren't a lot of openers who are actually shooting the lights out," Larsen said.

"That's a challenge from me to the Major Association batsmen. Get out there and put the big numbers up."

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