Tim Southee has been as good as Dale Steyn in the Sub-continent

Tim Southee played a key role in New Zealand’s series-levelling win against Sri Lanka in Colombo © Getty Images

 
Due to his recent successes in India and Sri Lanka, Tim Southee has ascended quickly to the top fast bowlers’ list in Asia in the past five years. Abhishek Mukherjee looks back at the performances of the New Zealand fast bowler and the general success story of New Zealand seamers in the sub-continent.

On their last India series, New Zealand had pushed India to the brink in the second Test – only for Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni to gut it out in the fourth innings; while India could avoid defeat, Sri Lanka did succumb to the New Zealand seamers – both in the first innings of the first Test and in both innings of the second. 

The chief architect for each batting collapse has been Tim Southee. After a phenomenal Under-19 World Cup, Southee had begun his Test career rather spectacularly – with a 5 for 55 and a 40-ball 77 (with nine sixes) batting at No 10 against England in March 2008. Since then, a career average of 35.04 seems rather pedestrian – unless we consider what he has done in the subcontinent.

If we consider the performances of the foreign fast bowlers in the subcontinent since 2008 (Southee’s debut year), we will find that he is up there next to none other than Dale Steyn. Steyn is probably expected to top every list of fast bowlers of recent times, but what is amazing is the difference between Steyn and Southee, and the others. Using a 20-wicket cut-off, the list is as follows:

 

Player M Overs Runs Wkts Avg SR 5WI
Dale Steyn 9 295.3 980 46 21.30 38.5 2
Tim Southee 5 168.0 522 24 21.75 42.0 2
James Anderson 9 304.5 814 24 33.91 76.2 1
Morne Morkel 9 267.5 900 24 37.50 66.9 2
Fidel Edwards 6 173.1 762 20 38.10 51.9 2
Darren Sammy 10 246.0 766 20 38.30 73.8 0
Mitchell Johnson 9 346.2 1095 27 40.55 76.9 1
Stuart Broad 9 303.4 937 23 40.73 79.2 0

 

Even if we remove the post-2008 cut-off, Southee is up there with some of the all-time greats in a region where many fast bowlers have struggled to thrive. Steyn drops behind Southee (due to the relatively lesser pre-2008 performances), and the list is surprisingly dominated by New Zealand pace bowlers, with as many as four entries in the top ten:
 

Player M Balls Runs Wkts Avg SR 5WI
Dayle Hadlee 6 974 334 21 15.90 46.3 0
Roy Gilchrist 4 1189 419 26 16.11 45.7 1
Alan Davidson 10 2590 786 44 17.86 58.8 2
Brett Schultz 4 835 384 21 18.28 39.7 2
Graham McKenzie 9 2313 786 42 18.71 55.0 4
Wes Hall 11 2373 1083 54 20.05 43.9 3
Allan Donald 9 1746 732 36 20.33 48.5 1
Courtney Walsh 17 3485 1581 77 20.53 45.2 5
Bruce Taylor 9 1431 631 30 21.03 47.7 2
Andy Roberts 9 2305 1055 49 21.53 47.0 4
Richard Hadlee 13 2909 1468 68 21.58 42.7 5
Tim Southee 5 1008 522 24 21.75 42.0 2

 

However, if we sort the bowlers by strike rate using the same criterion, Southee moves up to the third position:



Player
M Balls Runs Wkts Avg SR 5WI
Dayle Steyn 13 2477 1494 63 23.71 39.3 4
Brett Schultz 4 835 384 21 18.28 39.7 2
Tim Southee 5 1008 522 24 21.75 42.0 2
Jermaine Lawson 6 1112 576 26 22.15 42.7 1
Richard Hadlee 13 2909 1468 68 21.58 42.7 5
Darren Gough 6 1039 542 24 22.58 43.2 0
Wes Hall 11 2373 1083 54 20.05 43.9 3
Patrick Patterson 5 889 557 20 27.85 44.4 2
Michael Holding 6 1342 663 30 22.10 44.7 1
Courtney Walsh 17 3485 1581 77 20.53 45.2 5

 
 
(A hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobiac by his own admission, Abhishek Mukherjee is a statistical analyst based in Kolkata, India. He typically looks upon life as a journey involving two components – cricket and literature – not necessarily as disjoint elements. A passionate follower of the history of the game with an insatiable appetite for trivia and anecdotes, he has also a rather steady love affair with the incredible assortment of numbers the sport has to offer. He also thinks he can bowl decent leg-breaks and googlies in street cricket, and blogs at http://ovshake.blogspot.in)