By Niall Anderson in Birmingham
Tim Southee finds himself in a curious position as he makes his case for inclusion in the Black Caps starting XI.
Fully fit after recovering from an inopportune calf injury, Southee readily acknowledges how good the Black Caps bowling unit has been in his absence, yet will also be hoping that the selectors decide to change up that successful unit, and hand him the new ball.
Southee picked up the injury to his right calf on the eve of the Black Caps' opening Cricket World Cup game against Sri Lanka, giving Matt Henry the opportunity to open the bowling alongside Trent Boult.
Henry took the chance well, taking seven wickets in his first two games before being slightly off-line against Afghanistan. He has been a key part of a bowling group that has taken 30 wickets in three games, and restricted their opposition to meagre totals of 136, 244 and 172.
Southee has been delighted watching on as his fellow bowlers dominated the tournament's early stages.
"It's been a great start – to take 30 wickets in the first three games, it's been a great effort from the guys, and hopefully that can continue deep in to the tournament."
However, Southee will undoubtedly want to be a part of that potential deep run, and is available for selection ahead of the Black Caps' next game against South Africa in Birmingham on Wednesday.
"The injury's feeling pretty good. I had a bowl at The Oval and a light bowl in Taunton, so it's gradually got better, and now with almost a week [between games], it will only keep improving more. It's coming along, it's not a great time to get injured, but that's part of sport, and you're very rarely playing at 100 per cent anyways – hopefully we're through the back of it now."
With Lockie Ferguson being one of the tournament's standout bowlers, and Trent Boult a surefire selection, Southee is set to battle with Henry for a spot in the side, and believes the amount of differing options the Black Caps can employ is a significant benefit.
"It's a strength of having a strong squad, various guys do different things, I guess I'm more of an out-and-out swing bowler, while Matt's more of a seam bowler who can swing it if the conditions are right.
"It's nice to have those options – obviously Lockie's got that X-Factor of bowling 150km/h, Trent's left-arm, swings it, so we've got a number of guys who do a number of different things, it's good to have 15 guys to have those selection conversations about."
Southee will be hoping those conversations favour him, as the Black Caps prepare for the business end of the tournament.
The Alternative Commentary Collective are podcasting their way through the World Cup. Known for their unconventional sports analysis and off-kilter banter, the ACC have come to ask the tough questions. Here's the latest episode of 'The Agenda':
WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT