Tim Southee unsure if he will remain captain on New Zealand's tour of the subcontinent

“We’ll see,” he said after the loss to Australia. “Obviously you go to Asia [later this year], the make-up of the side changes”

Alex Malcolm

11-Mar-2024 • 33 mins ago

Tim Southee: We’ll deal with this tonight and look to move forward to what’s to come  •  AFP/Getty Images

Tim Southee has conceded there’s no guarantee he will captain New Zealand’s next set of Test matches when they head to the subcontinent for to face Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and India later in the year.

Southee cut a dejected figure after a heartbreaking three-wicket loss to Australia in Christchurch. New Zealand had Australia 34 for 4 and 80 for 5 defending 278, but were unable to finish the job as Alex Carey, Mitchell Marsh and Pat Cummins guided the visitors home.

It means New Zealand’s 13-year winless streak in Tests against Australia is set to extend while their 31-year drought at home against their neighbour becomes interminable with no future tour scheduled at the moment.

Southee put his own form under the microscope before his 100th Test, at Hagley Oval, saying he had not taken the wickets he would have liked. He took just four for the series even as Matt Henry, Ben Sears and Will O’Rourke all bowled impressively throughout.

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Southee captained New Zealand’s most recent Tests in Bangladesh last year when they only picked two seamers and he is aware that his position is vulnerable.

“We’ll see,” Southee said. “Obviously you go to Asia, the make-up of the side changes slightly with spin becoming the main threat in that part of the world. But we’ll see when we get there. We’ll deal with this tonight and look to move forward to what’s to come.”

Southee’s captaincy came under the microscope on day four in Christchurch as Australia wriggled their way out of trouble.

He opted not to bowl Glenn Phillips until the last over before lunch after Marsh and Carey had already reached their half-centuries and the pair had shared a 94-run unbeaten stand. Phillips had picked up both men already in the series, including Carey twice. He almost had Marsh out lbw on the stroke of lunch but was saved by an inside edge.

Southee said there was enough there for the seamers that enticed him to stick with pace through the first 90 minutes of the rain-shortened session.

“Hindsight is a wonderful thing,” Southee said. “But I think the amount of times we went past the bat in that first session, we felt that seam was the option. We created a few chances through that first session. I think we felt that seam was the right move.”

He also defended the selection of Scott Kuggeleijn who only bowled three overs in the second innings despite being selected as a specialist bowler. Kuggeleijn only conceded 10 runs off the bat but his maiden included critical extras of four byes and six leg byes from three balls that were angled down the leg side.

“He’s been a been a standout performer at domestic level,” Southee said. “He added a very valuable 40-odd runs for us batting in that No.8 position and when you play the four seamers you’re looking for someone who can bat a bit.

“Scott’s got a handful of first-class hundreds and we saw how valuable that 40-odd runs were.

“Disappointing with the ball. But I think he’s still chimed in with a couple of important wickets in the first Test in Wellington and 40-odd runs here. It’s tough for everyone to play a role at times.”

Southee also refused to blame his side’s fielding as a reason for the loss. They dropped critical catches in Wellington and Rachin Ravindra’s drop of Marsh in the second over on Monday morning proved very costly.

Marsh was 28 at the time and went on to make 80. Although Southee did note that without the drop, which also cost a single, they may not have got Travis Head out next ball.

“Guys don’t mean to drop catches,” Southee said. “Everyone works hard on the fielding. Obviously that one went down early in the day. But if we take that then we don’t get the wicket the next ball and who’s to say Head doesn’t go on and have an innings like Marsh. You look back on a number of things. But the guys work hard on their fielding.”

Southee denied his side had a mental block against Australia but he couldn’t put his finger on why they continued to struggle in the crunch moments against them.

“I’m not too sure,” Southee said. “They’re a tough side to beat, not only in Australia, but when they travel as well.

“I think when you play the best you’ve got to be at your best for those periods, that little bit longer. We had moments through both Test matches where we could have been a little bit better at times and then things could have been slightly different. But it was just another great Test and there’s been plenty of those over the last few years.”

Tim SoutheeNew ZealandNew Zealand vs AustraliaAustralia in New ZealandICC World Test Championship

Alex Malcolm is an associate editor at ESPNcricinfo

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