Tim Southee
Tim Southee (AFP Photo)

New Zealand considered abandoning their third Test against Pakistan in Sharjah in 2014 after Phil Hughes’ death. It was the Day 2 of their third and final Test of the series in November when the tragic news of Hughes succumbing to an injury after being hit behind the ear by the ball as he missed a shot during a Sheffield Shield match.

They are back in the UAE for a full-fledged tour as they prepare to face Pakistan, world’s top-ranked T20I team, in the series opener on Wednesday.

Tim Southee, who was part of New Zealand’s playing XI, has recalled how the turn of events affected the cricketers emotionally. “Playing a game was not really what a lot of the guys wanted to do,” Southee told Stuff.co.nz. “A number of the guys knew Phillip personally and being one of us, part of the cricket family. It touched guys in a number of ways and it was a very emotional group.”

The Day 2 of the Test was called off to give players time to cope up with the news and was stretched by a day. “It hit everyone that was there and we weren’t sure whether the Test was going to go ahead. We had a rest day on the second day then we had to get our heads around the game going ahead, and actually playing it,” Southee said.

New Zealand went on to win the match by an innings and 80 runs to draw the three-match series 1-1. “To win it, not bowling bouncers, not really talking in the field, it was quite a surreal Test match. Guys went out with freedom with the bat, Brendon smashed 200 and Kane got a brilliant hundred and we hit the most sixes in a Test innings,” he said.

He added, “The mentality of the guys was there’s more to life than a game of cricket, and they went out and played with freedom. It was a great win to be part of.”

While the cricketing world grapples with the players’ behaviour, especially in the wake of ball-tampering scandal involving Australian cricket team, New Zealand are one team that standout when it comes to upholding the so called ‘spirit’ of the game.

Southee said the team did drift from their natural character when they tried emulating the likes of Australia and New Zealand. However, they are more comfortable playing the way they have been which has made them the good guys of international cricket.

“We tried to play the game a little bit like the Australians, we tried to play like the English or like various teams around the world. What sits well with us is playing like Kiwis and that’s been portrayed over the last few years, we’ve played how we want to be represented not only as players but also how New Zealand as a country wants to be perceived on the cricketing stage. That sits comfortably with us, just going out and expressing ourselves as New Zealanders. It needs to be authentic and work for us,” he said.