Southee acknowledges doubts about his future as captain.

Soon after New Zealand lost to Australia by an astonishing three wickets in Christchurch, securing a 2-0 series win for the visitors, captain Tim Southee spoke to the media in a pragmatic manner. Given his own poor performance in the series, Southee knows that his position as captain and maybe even his playing career may not be guaranteed. The Black Caps’ upcoming red-ball assignment, a one-off match against Afghanistan in September of this year, will mark the beginning of a period that will also involve trips to Sri Lanka and India.

The 35-year-old, who played in 100 Tests for the Christchurch team, took just four wickets in the entire series—a startling figure for an experienced player who was even outbowled by Ben Sears, a rookie, in the second Test. Throughout the series, Matt Henry (17 wickets) led both teams’ charts, although Southee’s at best erratic periods offered him little assistance. He won the toss and bowled well, but he struggled to strike the correct distances on the first day of the Wellington Test, as an example.

“We’ll see,” said Southee. “When you get to Asia, of course, the composition of the team shifts a little bit, with spin emerging as the primary danger there. But when we get there, we’ll see. We’ll address this tonight and focus on moving on to the future.”

During the run chase in Christchurch, Southee’s leadership came under scrutiny when, after allowing his pacers extended stints, he postponed Glenn Phillips’ entrance in the morning session. While circumstances here favoured pace over spin, the part-time off spinner had caused issues for the Australians in the first game. Nevertheless, there was general agreement that Southee should have mixed and matched a little bit, especially with Marsh and Carey able to withstand the early burst from the quicks. It turned out that during his time, Phillips seemed inquisitive and nearly produced a chance at the stroke of noon. Nonetheless, Southee made the decision to reject the critique.

“What a wonderful thing hindsight is,” Southee declared. “However, I believe that because of how many times we passed the bat in that first session, we believed that seam was an option. During that first session, we produced a couple opportunities. We believed, I believe, that the seam was the proper choice.”

Not just in the Tests but also in the previous white-ball leg, New Zealand’s fielding has been disappointing throughout the series. The hosts performed even less than their typically high calibre on the pitch. There were also several significant errors in Christchurch, like as Mitchell Marsh’s lost catch when the batter was only on 28. At one point, Rachin Ravindra blew a clear opportunity, providing Marsh with a lifeline that he would later utilise. However, the Black Caps were given some comfort when Travis Head made a similar short at backward point on the very next ball. Southee justified his team’s fielding and catching during the game by using that as a defence.

Southee stated, “Guys don’t mean to drop catches.” “Everyone puts a lot of effort into fielding. That one obviously went down early in the day. However, if we accept that, we won’t be able to take the wicket the following ball, and who’s to say Head doesn’t continue and score as high as Marsh? You reflect on several things. But the lads put a lot of effort into their fielding.”

The story of New Zealand’s inability to defeat Australia in the high-profile games was furthered by the loss in Christchurch. Two World Cup finals stand out on the list: the 2015 ODI World Cup and the 2021 T20 World Cup. The Black Caps have occasionally triumphed in a bilateral match against their Trans-Tasman rivals, but overall—as the statistics attest—Australia has dominated, especially in Tests. Since 2011, New Zealand has not won a Test match against Australia at home; the last time this happened was in 1993. Though rumours abound over a potential mental block that might prevent New Zealand from defeating Australia, Southee opted to remain neutral.

“I’m unsure,” Southee remarked. “They’re a difficult team to defeat both at home and away from Australia.

“I believe that in order to perform at your best, you have to give it your all at those brief intervals. Throughout both Test matches, there were instances when we could have performed a little bit better and other times when things may have gone a little differently. However, it was simply one more fantastic Test, and there have been many of them in recent years.”

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