<
>

Southee cautious as NZ get into swing

play
'Nice to get feel of Dukes ball' (1:33)

New Zealand bowler admits he found it difficult to find people willing to face the red ball in the nets at the IPL but is glad he had them with him (1:33)

Such is the frantic pace of professional cricket these days that a player could be forgiven for forgetting which country or ground he is next due to turn up at. Fortunately, though, for those late-arriving New Zealanders from the IPL their next destination is the most iconic cricket ground in the world. And, for Tim Southee, who only landed in England two days ago, Lord's also provides other reminders.

His name is etched on the visitors' bowling honours board after his figures of 6 for 50 when the sides last met on the ground in 2013. He is also one of just two New Zealanders, the other being Dion Nash in 1994, to have taken a 10-wicket match bag at Lord's. In the entire Test history there have only been 11 visiting bowlers to achieve the feat - it is a special club.

"It's always a nice feeling to come to Lord's, I'm lucky that it's my third Test here," he said. "I've had mixed Test matches but it's always nice to come back to a ground where you've had success. But you start on zero again on Thursday."

On his previous visit, Southee's feat was not rewarded with victory as Stuart Broad burst through the visitors, who were toppled for 68 in their second innings. "We competed for the majority of the match but got blown away by a hell of spell from Stuart Broad," Southee remembered. "It's exciting to have another chance."

New Zealand may never have a better chance to add to their lone victory at Lord's, which came in 1999 when they later secured a series victory. That came against an England team in disarray and being marshalled by a temporary coach before Duncan Fletcher took charge later in the year. The parallels with 2015 are stark. Perhaps disarray is a little too strong to describe the actual England team, but it is certainly not too strong to describe the last two weeks in English cricket. After the sacking of Peter Moores, Paul Farbrace is in charge for this series pending the appointment of a new full-time coach.

But Southee was diplomacy personified. "Our record in England hasn't been great, they've shown how strong they are in their own conditions and will want to start an Ashes summer well," he said. "They will be very tough and they showed glimpses in West Indies."

However, while Southee did not finish on the winning side two years ago he has a far more recent memory of dismantling England and coming away with the spoils. His 7 for 33 in the World Cup group match in Wellington set up a crushing victory for New Zealand and it was a hammering England never looked like recovering from during an horrendous campaign.

While England could barely move the ball for most of the tournament, Southee and his sparring partner Trent Boult, who finished as the joint-leading wicket-taker of the tournament, regularly made it bend at will. In Wellington, Southee sliced through England's middle and lower having also removed the openers. England's top four that day - Moeen Ali, Ian Bell, Gary Ballance and Joe Root - will all line up at Lord's. Memories will work both ways.

"It's a completely different format, there has been a lot of cricket since," Southee said. "They are coming off a Test series where some of the guys performed very well. Alastair Cook is scoring runs again, James Anderson is taking wickets. They are a dangerous side in their own conditions and leading into a big summer for them they'll want to start on the right note. What happened in the World Cup happened and I'm sure they'll learn from that and become better for it."

The swing for Southee at the World Cup came with a Kookaburra in hand; in a warning to what could be about to greet England he was savouring the chance to get the Dukes ball back in his grasp. "It's a nicer ball for a swing bowler," he said. Southee and Boult were practising with them, as best they could, between IPL matches - although that has largely consisted of bowling on the outfield into a baseball mitt - but Southee was phlegmatic about the unorthodox preparation.

"We've played some great Test cricket in the last couple of years, although it's been a while since we played and they are coming off the back of a series - hopefully the guys can adapt quickly, but the ones who have been here have shown form.

"It's the way cricket is played, you have to adapt - you go from one-dayers to T20s and then to Tests so it's no different to what we face back home it's just that we've come from different parts of the world. The hardest thing will be getting used to the cold weather."

England will hope it takes a while for Southee to warm up.