Pick all the spinners in the squad, even if they are not your best bowlers. A notion is present in the teams coming to India and more likely on the other subcontinent tours. In the first Test of the ongoing series between India and New Zealand, the visiting team went ahead with 3 spinners in their playing eleven and the absence of Neil Wagner was felt and discussed heavily. This is to do with the quality of pace bowlers you possess as a team. It’s always better to play with your best bowler/bowlers.
Australia had Glenn McGrath, South Africa had Dale Steyn and in that flow, you can easily say New Zealand has Tim Southee. Such pace bowlers can use their skills even on the tracks that don’t offer much. In this piece, we look at how Tim Southee has bowled in these conditions.
Performance in India
India will be a batting paradise, but one thing you have in your favor as an opposition bowler is that, if you can bowl one of your best spells against an Indian batting lineup at home and it plays a part in just setting up a match/series, it will be remembered for many years.
Dale Steyn’s 10 wickets in Nagpur can be used as a guide for pacers to bowl in India. Southee did so to a far extend with a 7 wicket haul in the first innings at Bengaluru in 2012. Out of the seven-wicket, five of them were of the top order ( No.1-7). Southee has two five-wicket hauls in India, and Steyn is the only other bowler to have such a stat after 2000. The average for a visiting pace bowler in India after 2000 has been 39.75, Southee’s is 26.45. It can be analyzed that he can give you three wickets against an average bowler who will pick up two.
In these conditions, Southee has been good with the second new ball and has picked up 6/20 wickets in between over 81 and over 90. The average is an unbelievable 5.7, and comparing it to the new ball at the very beginning of the innings, his average is 50.
Shining in Sri Lanka
When you can repeat your performance in difficult conditions in different countries, you surely have some good skills with you. Southee has an outstanding average of 15.47 in Sri Lanka. In comparison, Zaheer Khan who has grown up bowling in subcontinent conditions has an average of 40 in Sri Lanka. Yes, there can be an argument that Zaheer played in an era ( 2000-2008) where the Sri Lankan team was a very strong team and were difficult to beat at home and Southee has had an easier way through it playing against them in this era (post-2011).
Although comparing Southee’s number vs Steyn( 2006-18) and James Anderson( 2003-21) can give a clear picture as they have been a part of both eras. Both of them average above 30, that’s two times what Southee does. In short, Southee has been exceptional in Sri Lanka, and only slightly bettered by Mitchell Starc. Mohammad Asif does have an average of 10.76 but he is from Pakistan and used to bowling in such conditions throughout his life.
Southee may have average numbers in UAE with an average of 39.44 and a strike rate of 96, but those stats came in two series where New Zealand managed to be better than the host team Pakistan on both occasions. Drawing the series(1-1) in 2014-15 and winning it (2-1) in 2018-19.
Southee has age (32) on his side and maybe has one tour of Sri Lanka and hopefully, Pakistan left in his career. As a player, he has always improved and kept adapting to the ever-changing game. Just, for example, he was not seen as a T20 bowler a few years, maybe because of what Trent Boult his bowling partner could do in that format. But he has been lately very economical and useful for New Zealand. As said always, a Test player with skills and the mentality can adapt in any format and also anywhere, and Southee has done that with his performances in the subcontinent.