Tim Southee has been a pillar in New Zealand cricket for over a decade. The Black Caps veteran shares his IPL experiences and spells out his goals in a candid chat.
Can you spell out the secret of Black Caps’ emergence as a superpower in world events?
I think we’ve always been able to box above our weight in world events. Going back, even before I played, we had made several semifinals in World Cups and I guess that was the hurdle we couldn’t quite get over and we managed to make the final in 2015. And then the World Test Championship final and now the T20 World Cup final as well, and the 2019 World Cup final as well. So yeah, I guess as a side we have become a lot more consistent. I think as a team there is no secret recipe to success. It’s just a lot of hard work has gone into creating a team environment, and we have been lucky to have many world-class players. I think it goes back to when Brendon McCullum took over as captain and then I guess we have sort of gone from strength to strength.
How do you look at the fact that the competition back home isn’t as fierce as in a few Asian countries or the big cricket regions? Does it result in players getting a longer rope?
Yeah, the size and population of New Zealand in general. A pretty small country with 55 million people. We have got six domestic teams, and I think we just try to make the most of what we’ve got. One of the major factors in that time since Brendon took over and then Kane (Williamson) as well has been consistency in selections and giving guys time to find their feet and perform at this level. I think we worked out pretty quickly. The chopping and changing of a side don’t sit well with us, doesn’t work for us as Kiwis. We are blessed with a few pretty good cricketers at the moment, which has been now building for some time.
Cricket is also not as lucrative as it is in some of the more cricket driven regions. How much will the scenario change with Amazon Prime as a broadcast partner?
It’s great to partner up with Amazon Prime, and I get that to go into India, such a massive market and such love for cricket are big for us. We started playing cricket because we loved it as kids, and we have been able to make a career of it. The first and foremost thing is the enjoyment of playing and being able to represent your country.
Are you an OTT geek or do you prefer to play video games in your free time?
I’m a country boy so I grew up in the countryside, spent a lot of time indoors and in front of screens as a kid, but in the current climate that we are living in with the bubble life and very much confined to a hotel, there is a lot more time for guys to catch up on various streaming sites and plenty of things to watch nowadays.
You have been around international cricket for well over a decade now. What has refrained you from exploring some of the other T20 leagues besides the IPL and T20 Blast at times?
The most important thing for me is to represent New Zealand and I love doing it. And as you get older, that’s sort of, you know, your body needs to have a rest period as well. I’ve been very fortunate to play many years in the IPL and hopefully, there are a few more years as well, but I have played in the English T20 competition a couple of times. Played the Canadian one a few years back. The Big Bash collides with our home summer, so that’s very hard to get into.
You have been a part of five IPL teams so far. Can you pick the most memorable and forgettable experience?
Now there are ten teams, so there are still five more to go (chuckles). But yeah, I have been been very lucky to experience many IPL teams, managed to pick up a couple of titles along the way and made the final this year. So I think those are the most memorable moments.
Winning with Chennai in 2011 was an amazing experience and also with Mumbai a few years back. But the thing I enjoy the most is just playing cricket in India. To see the fans and the support you get, the passion they have for their local IPL team. Also the friendships you make. You go into an Indian team environment as an overseas player and by the time you walk away after two months, the friendships you have made and the people you’ve managed to get to know is something I enjoy.
India cricketer Shubman Gill takes a selfie with Tim Southee during an IPL game for KKR. – SPORTZPICS
Do you think it’s time IPL does away with full rejig of squads every three or four years?
I don’t know. It’s a tough one. It’s been something that’s been a part of the IPL from the start and the hardest thing is probably for the fans who get connected with the side and also the players for several years. So I guess it’s tough with the chopping and changing of players. I’m not sure it’s above my pay bracket to find out what the best solution is for that.
Can you tell us the secret of Tim Southee having lasted so long at international cricket and the targets you have set for yourself in the next couple of years?
When I first started, I had to learn the game. I had only played a handful of domestic games and all of a sudden you are playing international cricket. So I think just looking at ways to continue to get better. There have been plenty of setbacks throughout the journey, but I think those mould you as a player and a person. As a bowler, it can be quite taxing at times, just making sure you are putting those yards in away from the game as well and looking after yourself and your body. You look at someone like James Anderson. He is still being able to play 160-odd Test matches, Stuart Broad has played 150 Test matches. It is incredible. For them to be going in their late 30s is admirable from a fellow fast bowler. I have just recently turned 33, so yeah, it’s many more years to go. I’d love to do it for many years to come.
Amazon Prime Video debuts Live cricket streaming on January 1, 2022 after multiple years of being India’s most loved entertainment destination.