How many goes does Southee get?


The date was Fe­bru­ary 20, 2015, Welling­ton, the cap­i­tal had put on some beau­ti­ful sum­mer weather for our third game of what was to be a cap­ti­vat­ing world cup.

I was about to wit­ness some of the finest swing bowl­ing one-day in­ter­na­tional cricket had ever seen.

Af­ter an open­ing spell of five overs and two wick­ets for 23, Tim Southee was thrown the ball for the 27th over.

Eng­land at 104-4; 7.2 overs later and they were done, 123 all out.

In his last four overs, Southee had taken five wick­ets for 10 runs, em­bar­rass­ing Eng­land in a mes­meris­ing spell of swing and seam, send­ing chants of his name echo­ing around a fever­ish Cake Tin.

Bren­don McCul­lum would fol­low suit in the bat­ting, de­mor­al­is­ing Eng­land’s bowlers and leav­ing New Zealand 12 runs to win, af­ter a far­ci­cal lunch­break.

The Barmy Army favourites would never re­cover, and New Zealand would go on to a fa­mous semi-fi­nal vic­tory against South Africa, on that amaz­ing night at Eden Park.

Since that un­be­liev­able dis­play that day, Southee has barely thrown a punch.

In the fol­low­ing 28 one-day in­ter­na­tion­als (ODI) he’s played, he has taken a measly 28 wick­ets at a whop­ping 53.89 per wicket - and an un­ac­cept­able econ­omy rate of 5.97 runs an over.

In the rest of that world cup, he took four wick­ets at 91.5 with an econ­omy of 6.8, while a player such as Kyle Mills, with a world­class ODI bowl­ing pedi­gree, ran drinks in his swan­song.

Southee’s home record over this time is even worse - 16 games, 15 wick­ets at 57.73, econ­omy 5.97.

I thought I’d give him one more chance be­fore writ­ing this: the South Africa se­ries.

Fin­ish­ing fig­ures in this se­ries: five wick­ets at 56.6, at an econ­omy of 6.1, on pitches that suited bowl­ing more of­ten than not. Yet, his se­lec­tion goes un­ques­tioned?

Are we that bereft of new bowlers? Where’s Matt Henry? Doug Bracewell? Ben Wheeler?

They all have a much bet­ter record over the same pe­riod, but have been shown lit­tle reg­u­lars­e­lec­tion loy­alty. Blood some­one new. Surely they can’t do any worse?

Even Hamish Ben­nett, an old Black Cap, is bowl­ing well and fast this sea­son.

We all know Southee is still ca­pa­ble of bowl­ing a world-class ball. Too of­ten those spe­cial balls are to tailen­ders, and too of­ten they’re lost in er­ratic dis­plays, wide bounc­ers or mid­dle-and-leg half-vol­ley pies.

Peo­ple will ar­gue his econ­omy rate will al­ways be high as he bowls at the start and the death, yet Trent Boult’s is not (29 matches, 64 wick­ets at 22.12, econ­omy 5.16).

Has he be­come that bad that teams now tar­get him?

His death bowl­ing in this last se­ries was gen­er­ally woe­ful: game two, last over, an ex­cep­tion.

Even then though, Boult had giftwrapped it for him in the over be­fore.

My ques­tion is how many chances does Southee get?

As his av­er­age per wicket rises in ev­ery match, has there ever been such a de­cline in form, so well dis­guised, ig­nored and un­spo­ken of?


Southee leaps into his bowl­ing stride pass­ing um­pire Joel Wil­son against the Proteas at Welling­ton.

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