Bowling with tremendous control, and generating threatening swing, a 19-year-old paceman from Whangarei forced everyone to sit up and take notice during the 2008 Under-19 World Cup in Malaysia. The event is largely remembered for how a young and fiery Virat Kohli led India to their second title, but there were few other players who managed to make a name themselves. However, it was Tim Southee who stood head and shoulders above the rest, picking up 17 wickets at an astonishing average of 6.64. Four and a half months later, he had already represented New Zealand in all three formats.
The right-arm fast bowler had already played two Tests and as many T20Is before he made his ODI debut against England on this day in 2008. In his very first Test, Southee picked up five wickets before smashing 77 off 40 balls in the second innings and has been a regular member of the Black Caps line-up ever since. Southee is not someone who will blow the batsman away with his pace but he is one of those who relies more on seam and swing.
The 31-year-old has featured in three World Cups (2011, 2015 and 2019). Brilliantly adapting to subcontinental conditions, Southee had a superb 2011 World Cup in which he claimed 18 wickets at an average of 17.33. However, injuries have plagued his career over the last few years and his white-ball career is almost coming to an end.
Southee has been serving New Zealand for 12 years and is now their fifth-highest wicket-taker after Daniel Vettori (297), Kyle Mills (240), Chris Harris (203) and Chris Cairns (200). Only two other bowlers have picked up more wickets than Southee in ODIs ever since his debut. While he has worked a lot on the pace variations and reverse swing, Southee is more effective with the new ball. 65 of his 190 wickets have come in the first 10 overs where he operates at an economy of just 4.6.
The right-arm pacer has produced some match-winning performances over the years but hasn't quite actually been a consistent performer. The likes of Trent Boult, Lockie Ferguson and Matt Henry have done way better than Southee in the last few years. The Black Caps now also have solid allrounders James Neesham and Colin de Grandhomme and these five have generally been getting the nod ahead of Southee in the last year or two. New Zealand had a terrific 2019 World Cup campaign but Southee only got to play one match in which he leaked 70 runs in nine overs.
Southee's record at home in these last three years has also been very poor. In the 25 matches he has played in New Zealand since the start of 2017, the fast bowler has picked up 28 wickets at an average of 45.7 and an economy rate of 5.9. Playing ODIs at home, only two other bowlers have a worse average than Southee in this time frame.
In recent times, Southee's record with the new ball is still decent but the right-arm pacer has struggled to make any impact in the middle phase and death overs. He is leaking runs at almost six runs per over in the middle phase of the innings, what in the final 10 overs, Southee has an economy of 9.5. The likes of Ferguson and Boult have an economy of 6.5 and 7.4 respectively in the last 10 overs and are way more better than Southee. Even Santner, Neesham and de Grandhomme have better numbers than Southee.
Southee was never rapid but still had decent pace which has now dropped even further. He had a very good slower one and an off-cutter but the effectiveness of those deliveries has gone down because of the aforementioned reason.
While Southee is still producing good numbers in Tests, he is running out of time in white-ball cricket and will have to perform extraordinarily well to keep his ODI and T20I career going. The Black Caps now have an all-round pace attack and have even got some solid new talents waiting in the wings. Hence, the probability of Southee fading away from New Zealand's white-ball plans is very high.