Kolkata: The two-Test series against England will serve as the best preparation for New Zealand before they take on India in the World Test Championship final from June 18, according to their senior paceman Tim Southee.
The 32-year-old fast bowler, for whom this would be the fourth England tour, may have a bigger role in the first Test against the hosts from June 2 as their attacking lynchpin Trent Boult will be missing in action. The 14-day quarantine period for Boult - who flew home after the suspension of IPL - is finishing on Saturday after which he would be allowed to join his family. After spending about a week of personal time, he will then fly for England where he would be expected to serve another quarantine, less strict though – before joining the Kiwi squad.
Replying to a question during virtual interaction with the New Zealand media, Southee revealed that while Boult may not be playing the first Test during to the quarantine rules, he is very much a part of the Whatsapp group of their bowling unit and will be involved in their plans. ‘‘He’s a massive part of the squad,’’ said Southee,
The Duke balls, which will be used in all their three upcoming Tests, are known for an exaggerated swing and this is an area where their pace bowling unit needs to work. ‘‘We will be looking at some TV footage and work out a plan,’’ said Southee, who is returning to international cricket after an extended break.
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“It’s exciting to play three Test matches in such a short space of time, it is something that the team doesn’t get to do that often. The two Tests against England, always a tough opposition at home, will help us prepare for the WTC final against India coming up later in June.’’
The Kiwis are currently based at the hotel at Ageas Bowl in Southampton, located inside the stadium premises, where the WTC Final will be played. Giving an update about their practice plans, Southee said the rains and chilly weather forced them to do most of their training indoors and only some fielding outdoors on Friday ahead of an intra-squad game between Team Southee and Team Latham from May 25.
The first Test match will be held at the Lord’s, where New Zealand will be stepping in for the first time since their heartbreaking 2019 ICC World Cup final loss in the Super Over against England. Asked how they would be looking back at that final memories, Southee said: ‘‘The match did wonders for one-day cricket but we would possibly be looking at it with mixed emotions. However, this is a different format and we need to remember that we haven’t had much of a success in England.’’
How does he look at the prospect of playing against the James Anderson-Stuart Broad combine? ‘‘The longevity of Broad-Anderson had been incredible. It just shows that age is just a member,’’ said Southee.
This obviously brought to the question of Southee’s retirement plans. ‘‘I would like to play as long as I can,’’ he added.