ODI bowling winner March 14, 2016

He's got the curves

How Tim Southee swung England out in the World Cup

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"Classic example of how swing bowling should be"

Tim Southee
7 for 33 v England, World Cup, Wellington

"Everything today said 'Bat', and I just got it wrong."
- Eoin Morgan, speaking to the press corps at least three and a half hours earlier than he should have

It had been a faultless summer day in a flawless beginning to the World Cup in New Zealand. England were in the capital for its first game of the tournament, and their sizeable contingent of travelling supporters filled the hotels and kept the cafés and bars busy. Wellington was showing off, the city's quaintness bathed in golden sunlight under a pristine blue sky. There wasn't a cloud in sight as fans brunched in the chic establishments on Wakefield and Cuba streets, gradually gravitating towards the Westpac Stadium at the far end of Waterloo Quay.

Beat that: Ian Bell was done in by very late movement © Getty Images

The ambience at the Cake Tin was one of disarming hospitality, as officials and volunteers strived to smooth the experience of entering the stadium. There seemed to be few teething problems, and smiles were everywhere.

If the fans and reporters had received such warmth, then what welcome had the players got? The outfield was lush and fast, the pitch dry and flat, and it had not rained for a while. Morgan was right. It looked a great day to bat first.

England won the toss. They were the Starks at the Red Wedding.

"It hasn't really swung a hell of a lot in one-day cricket for a while, so it was pleasing to swing an old - well, not too old - ball that was past ten overs old. I guess the gift we've had is good wrists."
- Tim Southee, after the game.

How the ball swung, and so late. On a pitch with even pace and reliable bounce, batting should have been a delight - Brendon McCullum proved it was, a little later - but New Zealand got the ball to swing, and when it swings, Southee says, "it's a different ball game".

A full-and-across delivery knocked over Moeen Ali © Getty Images

He bowled seven outswingers in the first over. The third ball was inside the tramline outside off stump but deviated so much after passing the batsman that the umpire called it wide. Ian Bell left six of those deliveries and edged the other short of the slip cordon. Southee soon adjusted his line to attack the stumps, and England had no chance.

The delivery that bowled Bell moved improbably late. Southee's length was immaculate, his line angling in towards pitching on off and middle stump, drawing Bell forward to drive at a ball he seemed to have covered. And then it swerved away, just enough to beat the outside edge, not enough to miss the outside of off stump.

"A full house - it an amazing feeling having that many people behind you, and I think that's testament to the brand of cricket we're playing… that atmosphere today is up there with the best we've played in front of as a New Zealand team."
- Southee

The Cake Tin was not full at the time Bell fell - people in New Zealand don't seem to care for watching the toss live; most stream in a few minutes either side of the start - and the thousands outside would have heard it reverberate.

Touch wood: James Taylor was bowled by an outswinging yorker © Getty Images

Moeen Ali hit three successive fours as Southee took a while to adjust his line to a left-hand batsman. Then Southee followed a bouncer - a delivery Moeen wasn't comfortable facing - with an extremely full ball slanting across the batsman from over the wicket. Moeen hung back in his crease - an effect of the short ball - and jammed his bat down, but again the ball swung late to beat the inside edge and cannon into the base of off stump.

England had just lost Morgan, slumping to 104 for 4, when McCullum brought Southee back in the 27th over. "Brendon thought it was a chance to attack and put the foot down," Southee said. "It's one of those moves - he makes the play, it comes off, and it couldn't have been a better move."

The first ball, an outswinger, drew an appeal for a catch, but it had beaten James Taylor's bat the same time the bat had hit the ground. The second ball was near unplayable - an outswinging yorker that homed in on off stump, clattering it.

"It was a bit of a blur… I did nothing different. It was just one of those days where you can't do anything wrong. You just keep going and going."
- Southee

Off with the stump: Chris Woakes defended well but the late swing did him in © Getty Images

Could Southee bowl a better ball than all those that had gone before? Jos Buttler and Steven Finn edged regulation outswingers to the wicketkeeper and first slip, and Stuart Broad backed away from one that followed him and chipped it to mid-off.

"Goodness me," said Mark Nicholas on air when Southee claimed his fifth wicket. "How has that hit the stumps?" is what he left unsaid. Southee had gone wide of the crease from over the wicket to angle the ball into the right-hander, and Chris Woakes had done everything to cover it. He moved back and across in his crease and defended with a straight bat - the stumps could barely be seen as the ball began to swing so late, and so deviously away from him, from a good length. Hitting pause on the video of that delivery at the right time reveals a smidgen of the top off stump exposed for a fraction of a second during Woakes' defence. And Southee hit it.

His 7 for 33 was the best performance for New Zealand in ODIs. It razed England for 123 in 33.2 overs, after which McCullum demolished the chase in 12.2 overs.

"Credit has to be given to New Zealand for the way they bowled and fielded. It is the best bowling performance we have come across since we've been down this side of the world, which says a lot considering we have played against Australia." - Morgan

George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • A on March 15, 2016, 0:30 GMT

    Well deserved, that bowling was something else. I was there that day and it was unbelievable to watch - it seemed like the stumps' flashing lights were going to run out of batteries they were lighting up so frequently. It was definitely Tim Southee's day and then Brendon McCullum came out and smashed 77 off 25 balls... A great day to be a NZ cricket fan

  • blahblah1234567_9F5B2346-4AB1-446E-A1A0-77E2268CE43B on March 14, 2016, 13:54 GMT

    amazing spell well deserved award...

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