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.