Chal­lengers lie in wait as Southee pre­pares to re­turn

The Press - - Sport - IAN AN­DER­SON

Tim Southee is poised to gain his spot back in the New Zealand test team – but knows there’s a host of chal­lengers hot on his heels.

Southee missed the Black Caps’ first-test win over the West Indies in Welling­ton to be at the birth of his child with part­ner Brya. He is ex­pected to re­place Matt Henry in the XI for the sec­ond test start­ing in Hamil­ton to­mor­row.

The 28-year-old, who is New Zealand’s fifth most pro­lific wicket-taker in test history with 204 vic­tims, ad­mits there are plenty of play­ers push­ing for a spot in the quick-bowl­ing arse­nal.

Along­side Henry – and cur­rent in­cum­bents Trent Boult and Neil Wag­ner – are the likes of Lockie Fer­gu­son, Adam Milne and Scott Kuggeleijn want­ing to be­come in­ter­na­tional reg­u­lars.

‘‘It’s ob­vi­ously healthy com­pe­ti­tion,’’ Southee said.

‘‘It’s good to have that com­pe­ti­tion, it keeps guys striv­ing to get bet­ter. No-one ever takes their spot for granted.

‘‘It comes with the ter­ri­tory of play­ing at this level. It’s an hon­our to play for your coun­try – no-one goes into it think­ing they have the right to be there.

‘‘You see it around train­ing – the com­pet­i­tive edge with the guys. It brings out the best in all the play­ers, know­ing there’s guys knock­ing the door down, per­form­ing well in do­mes­tic cricket and bowl­ing well in the nets as well.

‘‘The amount of depth we’ve got is a pleas­ing sign, all rea­son­ably young as well.’’

Southee has taken 34 wick­ets in his six tests at Seddon Park, while hav­ing reg­u­lar first-class suc­cess at the venue for North­ern Dis­tricts, but be­lieves adapt­ing to con­di­tions will be key for the bowlers.

‘‘Usu­ally it’s a good wicket here. It usu­ally does swing a lit­tle here, but again, there’s been matches where it hasn’t. So it’s more about adapt­ing to the wicket, and I think we’ve done that rea­son­ably well, not only here, but at most of the grounds around New Zealand over the last few years.

‘‘Look­ing at that sur­face on day one [in Welling­ton] and you think that Neil Wag­ner took seven-for with, I think, six of them be­ing bounc­ers, you’re prob­a­bly won­der­ing how it all hap­pened.

‘‘And I think that’s the strength of this group – we are able to adapt to dif­fer­ent con­di­tions, and I think that was a move that was made rea­son­ably quickly and early on in the day.

‘‘It takes courage on a green one to all of a sud­den run in and start bang­ing it in half­way down.

‘‘But that’s the beauty of this side – we’re will­ing to try things, and not all of the time it comes off, but when it does it’s very sat­is­fy­ing.’’

Southee’s key weapon – outswing – has been ham­pered by the Kook­aburra balls used for tests here, so he’s had to adapt to that also.

‘‘That’s one thing that we’ve had a bit of a fo­cus on over the last cou­ple of years.

‘‘Ob­vi­ously the Kook­aburra hasn’t al­ways swung . . . I think it’s work­ing out ways to get wick­ets when the ball’s not swing­ing – I think we’ve done that rea­son­ably well in these con­di­tions over the last few years.’’

He’s keen to see how he would fare with a Duke ball.

‘‘I guess it would be nice to see how it goes in these con­di­tions. Ob­vi­ously it works well in the UK, so I’m al­ways open to see­ing how it’d go here in New Zealand.’’


Tim Southee is likely to start for New Zealand in the sec­ond test against the West Indies but knows the depth of pace bowlers in the Black Caps squad could make his po­si­tion in the team less than com­fort­able.

Lockie Fer­gu­son, left, and Adam Milne are among those push­ing Tim Southee for his test spot.

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