All set to participate in his sixth Men’s T20 World Cup in Australia, senior New Zealand pacer Tim Southee goes into the showpiece event as the joint leading wicket-taker in the shortest format of the game.
In New Zealand’s runners-up finish in 2021 T20 World Cup in the UAE, Southee took a wicket in every match for the Blackcaps barring the final in Dubai, ending up with eight wickets at a miserly economy rate of 6.50 and bowling majorly in power-play.
In an exclusive interview with IANS, facilitated by Prime Video, Southee speaks about the upcoming T20 World Cup, his new-ball partnership with Trent Boult, taking inspiration from the longevity of England pace duo of James Anderson and Stuart Broad, and much more.
Q. How do you view the New Zealand bowling attack ahead of the T20 World Cup?
A. When you look at our bowling attack, it covers most bases (as per Australian conditions). Good spinners, some guys who can swing the ball like. We also got Lockie Ferguson, who is one of the fastest bowlers in the world at the moment. It’s as attack which I can say is very well-balanced. Someone like a Lockie Ferguson has the ability to break the game open and is an exciting prospect to have in the side if not the fastest bowler in the world.
Q. You have formed a pivotal pair with Trent Boult with the new ball for New Zealand. What has been the secret behind you and Trent forming a formidable bowling partnership?
A. We go back a long way to under-age group cricket. We have played for the same domestic side, U19s, and then through here for the last ten years or so, bowling in all three formats for New Zealand. We know each other pretty well, have a pretty good friendship as well, not only as a cricketer, but as a person, that helps as well.
The whole right arm-left arm combination, we compliment each other pretty well. It’s been nice to have someone you know at the other end and get to understand what you are trying to work towards as well.
Q. In your opinion, what is the ultimate joy for a fast bowler while playing the game?
A. I think when you take a wicket and worked towards the plan, it’s always pretty satisfying when you get a guy out on a plan you have worked a lot. There are a lot of good deliveries which don’t give you wickets; there are a lot of average deliveries that do get you the wickets. But when you do plan and get the guy out, it’s pretty satisfying.
Q. As a fast bowler, there is lots of advice given right from the time one enters set-up at district level. Then, state, internationals and T20 franchise one. So, with so much advice floating around, how do you know whom to listen to which adds value to your bowling?
A. The guys go through periods in your career when you are younger and are not quite sure about your game. You listen to everything, especially to the things which you can think are important and may add value to your game. Always be open to new ideas and trying your things. (I have) Always been open to it, but not trying to filter out what may work or may not work.
Q. In your evolution as a bowler, the three-quarter seam ball has played a huge role apart from your natural outswinger. How did you develop this delivery (the idea of having this delivery in your arsenal) and the impact it had in adding more to your bowling plans?
A. I couldn’t bowl an inswinger, so had to bowl something else. It is a delivery that I picked off Kyle Mills, who was someone who bowled the outswinger and that was his other variation. Thankfully, it has managed to work a couple of times and adds another variation to the outswinger and the other deliveries I bowl.
Q. James Anderson is playing Test cricket at 40. Stuart Broad is also playing for England in Tests. How inspiring has the duo’s longevity been for you and how much inspiration does it give to you for playing the game for as long as possible?
A. They have been incredible. They both have played all three formats and for last many years, have concentrated on playing Test cricket. To be able to see James Anderson before and then still performing the way he is, it’s pretty impressive to watch, seeing just the sheer number of wickets.
The most impressive thing is the amount of Test matches he’s played. I wouldn’t be surprised if he plays close to 200 matches, or if not that, then the number of matches he’s played, it’s a pretty amazing achievement for a fast bowler.
Stuart Broad is probably a few years younger than what Jimmy is, but he’s had a tremendous career as well and it doesn’t look like that he’s slowing down. As fellow fast bowlers, it’s great to see those guys still out there and perform and do what they doing, obviously still love it as well.
Guys nowadays look at themselves a lot better, seem to be a lot fitter and stronger. With that, you might see players playing into their late 30s a lot more often. I am not sure about the 40s, but they have been incredible.
Q. Though you aren’t going to play India in the main stage of T20 World Cup, the side will be coming to New Zealand for white-ball matches. How exciting will that series be according to you?
A. India are always a very competitive side and obviously, one of the powers in international cricket. Every time you come up against India, it’s always a great challenge that the guys look forward to taking on (at home).
Q. New Zealand ‘A’ side had come to India in September for three four-day matches and as many one-day games against India ‘A’. Do you foresee any of those performers being given a look-in for the white-ball matches against India?
A. Probably a question for selectors and Gary. But it’s great experience for those guys to go over and play in that part of the world to get the experience of playing in India.
There are such foreign conditions there than what we are faced with (at home). I am sure they would have learnt a lot despite the results not going their way and will come back as better cricketers to watch out for in the future.
Q. With New Zealand matches now being made available on Amazon Prime in India, how do you think the growth of live sports matches streaming on OTT will grow in the coming years?
A. Indians are so passionate about cricket. Having played in and toured India a number of times, it’s an amazing place to go. Their pure passion and love for cricketers is amazing to see.
Live sports moving to OTT platforms is something the way the world is going. The ability to watch wherever you are around the world, whether you are in the house or car, you can tune in to live sports. It’s the way the world will go.