Matches (16)
T20I Tri-Series (1)
IPL (1)
WI vs SA (1)
USA vs BAN (1)
County DIV1 (5)
County DIV2 (4)
CE Cup (2)
ENG v PAK (W) (1)
News

Southee calls on Tickner and Co to galvanise New Zealand in changing times

He maintains that Test cricket is still the pinnacle and is currently not fully swayed into the pull of franchise leagues

Tim Southee looks on, Pakistan vs New Zealand, 2nd Test, Karachi, 5th day, January 6, 2023

Tim Southee is set to captain New Zealand in a home Test for the first time  •  Pakistan Cricket Board

The eve of the first Test of the home summer is rarely the best time to be addressing cricket's existential matters. But here was Tim Southee at the Bay Oval, just two matches into his captaincy, talking about the players not here - one in particular - and what it might mean for the game beyond Thursday's first Test against England.
In terms of the members who were present, all of the squad had finally congregated on Wednesday after Cyclone Gabrielle eased in the Bay of Plenty. Marooned members of the original squad - Tom Blundell, Blair Tickner, Will Young and Henry Nicholls - made it through after their travel plans were disrupted. The reinforcements Jacob Duffy and Scott Kuggeleijn arrived on Tuesday evening to swap in for the injured Kyle Jamieson and the expecting Matt Henry. Both uncapped bowlers - Kuggeleijn also offers something with the bat - will be vying for the final spot in the XI. Southee confirmed 29-year-old Tickner will make his debut.
"He's been around the group for a while now and had a taste in the one-day and T20 formats," Southee said of Tickner's international experience so far, which amounts to 9 ODIs and 17 T20Is. "It's exciting for him and his family for what should be a very special occasion."
Tickner will be something of an unknown, having played a second-string England team twice during a white ball series at the end of 2019, taking 2 for 25 in the third T20I and 0 for 50 in the following game. Ben Stokes, however, remembers him from a small stint of domestic cricket in New Zealand while suspended by the ECB at the end of 2017 after his streetfight in Bristol.
"I played out here for Canterbury a few years ago and played against Tickner, he's a big fella. Runs in and hits the deck hard. Yeah, I think he loves to get into the contest."
"The times are changing and more tournaments popping up around the world, but for me at the moment I see Test cricket as the pinnacle. I'm loving it and as far as I'm concerned my focus is solely on the two Test matches coming up and trying to perform for New Zealand."
Tim Southee
It did not take long for the conversation to turn to Trent Boult. Head coach Gary Stead revealed on Tuesday that no approach had been made to the fast bowler despite the fact he has returned home after a stint in the ILT20. Having stepped back from his national contract last August, New Zealand Cricket's understandable approach has been to give preference to domestic players, at least until Boult shows some willingness to return to the longest format.
Stead was unequivocal in his belief that this is not the end of Boult's career. But the fact that hosts go into this two-match series with an inexperienced seam attack when one of their best players of the modern era is 20 minutes up the road speaks of a problem. Even Stokes, who usually keeps out of opposition matters, saw the advantage England carry as a result: "Any team without Trent Boult playing against you gives you a little bit - we know he's a quality performer."
"I think if you ask the majority of people they still see Test cricket as the pinnacle," Southee said. "Credit to Ben and Brendon (McCullum) and the way they've turned things around and made it exciting for people to come and watch and be part of it.
"Just look at the ticket sales for this series, there's still plenty of interest in Test cricket and that's exciting. For me it's still the pinnacle of the game. Times are changing with franchise cricket and short-format cricket, but the majority of players still see it as the pinnacle."
The 34-year-old is no stranger to the franchise world, particularly in the IPL where he has enjoyed stints at five teams and is currently with Kolkata Knight Riders. Perceivably he, too, could follow Boult's move and fill up the rest of his time while keeping a toe in international waters. That, however, does not appeal to him just yet.
"It's something most people are looking at and weighing up, there's so much cricket. The times are changing and more tournaments popping up around the world, but for me at the moment I see Test cricket as the pinnacle. I'm loving it and as far as I'm concerned my focus is solely on the two Test matches coming up and trying to perform for New Zealand."
By Thursday at least, there will be actual cricket to talk about. Even England have found themselves a bit stir-crazy. "I feel we've been here for ages," Stokes said, raring to go having been in New Zealand for the last three weeks. As for the hosts, a challenging build-up in more ways than one is something they're happy to roll with.
"[It's been] A little bit disjointed," Southee said. "But like we have done for a long time, in true Kiwi style."

Vithushan Ehantharajah is an associate editor at ESPNcricinfo