Cricket: Tim Southee ready to step up and lead Black Caps attack

By David Leggat

Senior seam bowler struggling with injury setbacks but keen for a crack at Aussies
Tim Southee. Photo / Getty Images
Tim Southee. Photo / Getty Images

New Zealand's senior seamer Tim Southee is confident he'll be ready to lead the bowling attack when the first cricket test against Australia starts at the Basin Reserve in Wellington tomorrow morning.

Southee has been sidelined from national duty since damaging his right foot early in the ODI series against Sri Lanka at New Year.

He hopped about in a moon boot for a time and has one first-class game for Northern Districts last week as practical leadup.

It's not ideal but Southee reckons he'll be ready, providing there's no relapse this morning.

"I got through 23 overs so it was a reasonable workload, and got through the game unscathed, so hopefully I can scrub up tomorrow," Southee said of the final day of preparation for the test. "You very rarely play without some sort of pain. But I'm pretty happy the way things went last week."

The Basin Reserve hasn't been his happiest hunting ground.

In seven tests at the Basin, Southee's taken 18 wickets at 44 apiece, compared with 163 at 31.4 overall from 46 appearances.

Still, New Zealand like playing at the ground and haven't been beaten there in their last six tests - four draws and two wins - the last loss, a 10-wicket beating, came against Australia in 2010.

There is a palpable sense of anticipation among the New Zealand squad, especially on the back of winning the ODI series 2-1, and with the knowledge that they could have squared their series across the Tasman before Christmas, bouncing back from a dismal first half of that rubber.

"Any time you play Australia the bar is raised a little bit higher. We haven't played them in a test series in New Zealand for a while. It's going to be a great challenge and you can sense the excitement around the camp," said Southee.

He expects the Basin Reserve pitch will give some help to the bowlers, but also offer batsmen runmaking opportunities.

"Historically it's a pretty good cricket wicket. If batsmen get in, there's plenty of runs to be scored, but there's been a lot of wickets taken as well.

"We've had fond memories of this ground as a unit, and some great victories over the last few years. It's nice to come back to a ground where you do have that winning feeling," he said.

And Southee backs New Zealand, provided they're bang on the job, to "ask some questions" of Australia's batsmen.

"When we get it right we can be very dangerous in any conditions," he said.

Southee's new ball partner Trent Boult, who sat out the final ODI in Hamilton through sickness, is expected to be ready for the test.

His four tests at the Basin have produced 20 wickets at 23, including 10 for 80 in a man of the match-winning display against the West Indies three years ago.

- NZ Herald

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