World Test Championship news: New Zealand determined to defend crown

Latham Black Caps
HAMILTON, NEW ZEALAND - DECEMBER 03: Tom Latham of New Zealand makes a run during day one of the First Test match in the series between New Zealand and the West Indies at Seddon Park on December 03, 2020 in Hamilton, New Zealand. (Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

New Zealand have recognised that their World Test Championship victory in 2021 was the result of years of effort.

Stand-in Black Caps skipper Tom Latham said that the team want to receive the same acknowledgement for their work in the current World Test Championship cycle.

To that end, Latham hopes that New Zealand can secure their first Test series win over South Africa by claiming back-to-back wins at Hagley Oval.

“It’s very special to have that recognition for the year, but for us it was over a [longer] period of time to win that Test Championship,” Latham said at the pre-match media briefing.

“It’s not just the team, it’s the wider network of New Zealand Cricket. We’re all trying to push for the same thing and to have that recognition was really special.”

On top of their World Test Championship the Black Caps and skipper Kane Williamson were given gongs at the Halberg Awards.

World Test Championship rub

Latham was happy that the injured Williamson was able to accept the awards on their behalf, with the Test squad ensconced in a bubble.

He added: “The quality player he is, we’ve seen that day in and day out, and for him to get that recognition is very special – not only for his play, but also as a leader and a person as well. We will certainly celebrate with him when we get a chance to.”

Latham said that New Zealand could not afford to become complacent after a big win over South Africa in the first Test.

“On the whole for us it’s about the WTC and you get as many points as possible,” he said.

“Points at home are really vital. Nowadays in international cricket it’s so hard to win away from home, so points in your own country are really important.”

New Zealand could seal a series win with a draw but with World Test Championship points on the line, he says they will only have thoughts of winning the second Test.

“Yeah, if you look back a few years ago, where you know this wasn’t the case,” Latham said. “We had series which, if you won 1-0 then that was cool. But I guess nowadays the context that the WTC has had has been great for Test cricket and it just shows that you need to win every game, and that will be our challenge tomorrow.”

New Zealand and South Africa get their second Test underway on Friday 24 February (22:00 23 February GMT).