Southee batting for test spot comeback

IAN ANDERSON
Last updated 05:00 10/05/2012

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Fixing his bowling isn't the only thing on Tim Southee's training agenda.

The Black Caps swing bowler has also been working on his batting in an attempt to push his case as an all-round option in the lower order.

However, his biggest goal is to regain the test spot that he lost during the home three-match series against South Africa.

The 23-year-old, who headed to Canada yesterday to play for a World XI against an Asian XI in a promotional match in Toronto, admitted he was desperate to play test cricket after again missing out on the test squad for the coming tour of the West Indies.

"That's something that I really enjoy doing and I want to play more of them.

"But I've only got myself to blame for bowling poorly and I know it's not going to be easy with a lot of people now putting their hands up among the test bowlers."

Southee was named in the New Zealand Twenty20 and one-day squads, and was confident he had already made big strides on the delivery problems that culminated in his dumping following the first test in Dunedin where he recorded figures of 0-140 in 36 overs over two innings.

"I've still been doing some stuff via phone and email with [NZ bowling coach] Damien Wright, just on a couple of little technical things that crept into my game," Southee said.

"It was mostly a matter of timing – I was rushing to the crease and in doing so lost that swing and wasn't hitting the wicket hard.

"They're mainly little things and I'm confident it's not a major problem."

Southee indicated in his late-season first-class appearances with the title-winning Northern Knights that he was already finding a cure.

"It was good to go back and work on it at Plunket Shield level, and not have the pressure of playing at test match level but still being able to practise it in a match."

At the end of the domestic season, Southee took a break and when he returned to training, batting practice was high on his to-do list.

"I've been doing a lot of work on my batting, which is something I've always wanted to do more work on, and with some time away from playing it seemed the ideal time."

Southee, who has a test average of 20.20, wants to evolve into a consistent lower-order bat who won't just be remembered for his swashbuckling 77 not out from just 40 balls, featuring nine sixes, on his test debut against England in Napier in March 2008.

"It's not going to happen overnight, but it would be a big help to the team.

"Guys like Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann have proved they can contribute valuable runs, and it's also crucial for the bowlers to be able to stick around with the batsmen when they're in."

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Southee acknowledged the rapid switch from the shorter formats – which required him to bowl differently from his more attacking test role – to five-day matches was hard to master.

"It is tough but that's something that's part of the game now and the quicker you adapt to it, the better.

"You do have to change the style of how you bowl and you need to find a way to do that, that works for you."

Southee will be joined in the World XI by fellow Black Caps one-day players Jacob Oram and Kyle Mills for the match on Sunday (NZ time).

"We've also got Brendan Taylor, the Zimbabwe captain, and Mark Boucher, along with a couple of guys who have retired but can still play a bit – Brian Lara and Stuart McGill," Southee said.

His opposition will feature a number of Pakistan internationals, including the Asian XI captain Shahid Afridi, and former Sri Lankan star Sanath Jayasuriya.

ian.anderson@waikatotimes.co.nz

- Waikato Times

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