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Cricket: Southee joins an elite group

100-wicket double cements reputation as leader of test and limited-overs attack

Tim Southee broke the 100-wicket ODI barrier against India on Wednesday at Seddon Park. Photo / Getty Images
Tim Southee broke the 100-wicket ODI barrier against India on Wednesday at Seddon Park. Photo / Getty Images

Tim Southee joined a special club on Wednesday, becoming just the sixth New Zealander to take 100 wickets in tests and one-day internationals.

His forebears are Sir Richard Hadlee, Daniel Vettori, Chris Cairns, Danny Morrison and Ewen Chatfield.

Southee completed the test feat against the West Indies in his 29th cap during December and the ODI feat against India in his 76th match. Both milestones were at Seddon Park.

The achievement adds pedigree to Southee's reputation as leader of the test and limited overs attacks. He is accomplishing the rare feat of adapting to all formats. The 25-year-old is pitching the ball up looking for edges with the red ball while fishing for wickets early in ODIs before opting for short-of-a-length containment with the white ball. That's a lot to process as a bowler. Incumbent ODI player Kyle Mills could do it for only a short segment of his career; Doug Bracewell has struggled; and the selection panel has partitioned Trent Boult and Neil Wagner into tests and Mitchell McClenaghan and Adam Milne into limited overs cricket to avoid a clash.

Southee has gone from promising tearaway - he is one of six New Zealanders to get a five-wicket bag on test debut, against England in 2008 - to attacking stalwart. He may be expensive every now and again, especially in ODIs or T20s, but he emits barely a whiff of fear against opposition batsmen.

Southee's rhythmic run-up hints wickets are imminent. Added to that is an erratic talent with the bat and athletic outfielding. Few are better under the high ball than Southee, perhaps a throwback to his days as a blindside flanker with the King's College first XV.

New Zealand coach Mike Hesson says Southee has matured as a cricketer in the past year after Chris Martin's exit. However, he cites his second test in charge - against India at Bangalore in August 2012 - as Southee's coming of age. Southee took seven for 64, the sixth-best figures by a New Zealand test bowler and the best in India. New Zealand lost but Southee gained respect, especially having been dropped earlier in the year after taking none for 140 against South Africa in Dunedin. He played one test in the interim against the West Indies in Kingston.

"He stepped up and offered the group something we didn't have," Hesson says. "There's probably a perception he's the class clown in some quarters, which I think is unfair because he's got a good sense of humour. He's now an experienced guy who responds well to pressure. He drives the bowling unit."

Southee's recent test figures reinforce that. He took 18 wickets at 18.11 against the West Indies.

Shane Bond's arrival as bowling coach also appears to have helped. Southee has taken 48 wickets at 22.16 in 10 tests compared with 53 at 39.54 in 19 tests pre-Bond; his ODI average is up slightly from 31.09 to 32.50.

"Tim is leader of the attack," Bond said recently.

"But I'm pushing him in areas like bowling better with the old ball. His use of the new ball in tests is outstanding."

- NZ Herald

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