Pacer Tim Southee admits that more Kiwi players may follow their teammates’ lead and refrain from New Zealand Cricket contracts in order to pursue lucrative overseas deals. In the first match, the hosts trumped India by seven wickets. New Zealand chased down the target of 306 set by India with 2.5 overs to spare in the first ODI of three-match series here at Eden Park in Auckland on Friday. The second ODI of the three-match series between India and New Zealand was called off due to rain.
Speaking in the pre-match press conference on the eve of the team’s final one-day international against India in Christchurch, the 33-year-old reflected on both his remarkable career to date and cricket’s changing landscape, which he claimed has happened “quicker than anyone expected.” So far this year, the Blackcaps have suffered the loss of three regular players, all of whom chose to forego central contracts in order to play Twenty20 cricket around the world.
Trent Boult was the first to opt-out of his contract in August, signing on to play in Australia and the UAE, while Colin de Grandhomme retired from international cricket entirely to join him. Earlier this month, Martin Guptill became the third player to opt-out of a national contract after being left out of the Blackcaps’ plans and has since been signed by the Melbourne Renegades, with more deals possible.
Jimmy Neesham also declined a central contract after being offered one by NZ Cricket following Boult’s release but turned it down after committing to foreign leagues. For Southee, who is still under contract with NZ Cricket, the moves by his countrymen are simply a reflection of where the game is heading, with club cricket beginning to supplant international cricket as the premier form of the sport.
“It’s been an interesting few months. The landscape of cricket has changed quicker than most thought. I’m contracted to New Zealand Cricket at the moment, [and] been back to the IPL this year. We’ll see what happens over the coming years,” said Southee during a pre-match press conference. “It’s definitely changing, the landscape of cricket, to what it was two-three years ago,” he added.
Despite the examples he sees around him, Southee says giving up his own contract hasn’t been an active thought in his own future planning. Southee is currently under contract with the Kolkata Knight Riders for the 2023 IPL season, but he could also command deals in other leagues.
“I haven’t looked too far ahead to be honest. There’s enough cricket to come in the coming months to worry about to look too far ahead. I guess it’s something that all players are trying to stay with and think about as [part of] the moving landscape of the game,” said the New Zealand pacer. Meanwhile, Southee has joined an exclusive club after his three-wicket haul in New Zealand’s ODI victory over India at Eden Park.
Southee’s three wickets in Auckland made him the only player in history to have taken 300 test wickets, 200 ODI wickets, and 100 T20 International wickets. And as the shepherd of New Zealand’s bowling attack in all formats of cricket, Southee still has aspirations to take more wickets for his country.
“It is special, [with] no one has done it before. But I guess for me when you finish your career and look back and hopefully be proud of what you’ve been able to achieve, and hopefully leave the game in a better place than when you started. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time, and hopefully, there are many more years to come – and a few more wickets as well,” Southee said.