Tim Southee exhibits his class again!
When a player has been in the ranks for a comparatively longer period, it has often been observed that his presence and his performances no longer create the hysteria that would come along if the said cricketer was just starting out. The team around him and the spectators watching the game get accustomed to his consistencies that soon enough, even important milestones turn into mere events. Tim Southee, who has been one of New Zealand’s premier bowlers for the last decade or so is one who fills this bracket.
No, it is not that his deceptions and his variations are not appreciated anymore, it is just that the skilful swing bowler has assembled together many noteworthy and match-winning games that by now, the high deeds are expected and hence do not garner as much of an eyeball like it did six years ago, when the bowler scalped up seven wickets in Bangalore and followed it up with eight wickets in Colombo three months later.
Having started his career with a five-wicket haul against England in Napier in 2008, the veteran once again gave signs of his aura when he picked up his seventh five-wicket haul against the same team in the second Test of the series in Christchurch. Equipped with the newly-acquired art of bowling the cutters, the senior bowler in the team rattled Day 1 with figures of 5 for 60 in 23 overs. The visitors, who had already been scared by the duo of Southee and Trent Boult in the first innings of the first Test, being shot out for 58, were once again delivered the early jitters after they were reduced to 94 for 5 within 38 overs.
Southee, in particular, led the way in the first two sessions. He forced the English batsmen to defend against almost 25.8% of his deliveries and got his first success when he got James Vince with an inswinger that bumped into his pad. After the recalled player had struck three boundaries in his knock of 18 runs, a leg-side LBW forced Vince to ask for a DRS, but the umpire’s decision stuck as Southee got his first wicket.
English captain Joe Root was greeted with a Southee bouncer that struck the player on the helmet in his fourth ball and even though he looked his serene self in his innings of 37, he too fell to Southee after hitting the bowler for a wonderful on-drive. Focussed on replicating the shot, Root was caught unawares by a “three-quarter” delivery from the 29-year-old that sent the player’s off-stump flat on the ground.
Just like the boundary-ball, the delivery that bowled Root, swung back in into the right-hander. However, what caught him off-guard was the pace at which it was bowled. At under 130kmph, not much was on the ball for a drive. It led to Root shuffling across with the ball beating his inside edge on the way to the pads before crushing his off-stumps. If there was a sign of Southee’s smartness and shrewdness, it was this dismissal!
Playing on Mark Stoneman’s inability to play swing, Southee ripped him off with a perfect back of a length seamer that caught hold of his bat before it went behind to second slip. Even though Jonny Bairstow was going strong at the other end, Southee ensured that he found no settled partner, and when he had Stuart Broad with a clever usage of the fuller ball, England looked down and out with the scorecard reading 164 for seven.
Southee returned once more to finish the day with five wickets after he broke a frustrating 95-run partnership between Bairstow and Mark Wood. A brilliant toe-crushing yorker to Wood was followed with a fuller length delivery that was bowled at the stumps. Nipping back into the batsman, Wood was unsuccessful in going for a flashy shot and was castled. On the second day, Southee fetched the wicket of John Leach to bag his sixth wicket of the match. A stellar performance and it’s time for New Zealand to respond with the bat and back Southee’s brilliant display with the ball.