Australia v New Zealand, 1st Test, Brisbane, 1st day November 20, 2008

Southee aims for more such days

Tim Southee: "We had to make the most of the conditions early because it was a bowler-friendly wicket and we did so" © Getty Images

The swing bowler Tim Southee still lives at home on a farm with his family in Northland, but if he keeps performing like this it might soon be the only place he can hide. In three Tests, Southee has grown used to making big impressions and after being a surprise pick against Australia he quickly made himself indispensable with a mature performance that highlighted a fine day for New Zealand.

Southee reduced Australia to 3 for 23, knocking over Matthew Hayden, Simon Katich and Ricky Ponting during a sensational opening spell, and returned after tea to remove Brett Lee with help from a fine diving take from Brendon McCullum. He finished with 4 for 63 off 18 overs as Australia were dismissed for 214.

"It was up there with my first match against England, but I've only played three Tests," he said. "Hopefully there are more days like that."

Southee arrived like thunder against England in March, taking 5 for 55 and then blasting 77 from 40 balls, but didn't take a wicket in the next match at Lord's and was dropped for Iain O'Brien. His inclusion at the Gabba was not expected and he only found out in the warm-ups that he would replace Kyle Mills. It proved the first of many good decisions by Daniel Vettori on the opening day.

"We had to make the most of the conditions early because it was a bowler-friendly wicket and we did so," he said. "We bowled fairly well as a unit and the catching was outstanding, which was an improvement from the New South Wales game, when we put a few catches down. We've worked on that and it was outstanding."

With an immaculate seam position that should attract the attention of his opponents, who struggle with their wrists and release, Southee was able to get the ball to curl away and spring awkwardly off a seaming surface. His action looks like those of the veteran county pros in England, with a bustle into the crease and a jerky delivery, but he is already potent at international level.

Southee, who lives near Whangarei on the North Island, was a useful rugby player who almost made the New Zealand schoolboys side as a blind-side flanker, but he always wanted to play cricket. He is completing a busy year that included being the Player of the Tournament in the Under-19 World Cup in Malaysia, where New Zealand reached the semi-finals, and has kept him away from the family's sheep and beef farm.

He still helps out but has not spent much time there lately. "I haven't been back a lot in the last year or so but I don't mind doing a bit of real work," he said. The way he is going there will be even fewer visits in the future.

Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo