Canterbury will miss Latham, says Stead

BEN STANLEY
Last updated 05:00 16/02/2014

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Canterbury coach Gary Stead admitted the absence of test debutant Tom Latham will be felt by his side when they play Central Districts in the first day of their Plunket Shield clash in Rangiora today.

But the former international couldn't be happier with his younger batsman's promotion.

Latham has scored the second most runs in the Plunket Shield so far this summer, with 687, and has compiled a tidy 41.80 average since his first-class debut in November 2010.

His strong form for Canterbury has earned him a call-up into the Black Caps team for the second test against India in Wellington.

Stead talked up Latham's Canterbury influence so far this summer - and says he will be missed as the South Island side, who currently sit atop the Plunket Shield table, chase this season's first-class title.

"Tom's been our biggest contributor in terms of runs scored this summer," Stead told Sunday News.

"It's great that he has been doing it at the top of the order as well. It sets the innings up for the middle order to play with a bit more freedom.

"We will miss him - you always miss quality players - but his departure will be an opening for Simon Keen, who has only had one first-class game.

"[Latham's] temperament is good enough that he will make a great quality international player in the future."

Canterbury has won four Plunket Shield matches this summer, while notching three losses and a draw - a series of results Stead believes points to the proactive nature of his side.

"Seven of the games have gone to results as well," he said. "That's what we are trying to do. We're trying to play games where there are wins and losses.

"If we come out on the wrong side of some of them, so be it. We're trying to play good cricket."

Seamer Ryan McCone has been the Canterbury bowler to watch since returning from a broken thumb injury last month.

The right-armer claimed 4 for 75 against Auckland last week, and bowls with a growing accuracy and pace that could see him join fellow Cantab Matt Henry in the New Zealand seam mix in years to come.

Otago host Auckland at the University Oval in Dunedin starting today, while Northern Districts play Wellington at Cobham Oval in Whangarei.

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