“It’s still a bit tender where obviously there’s a bit of scarring and a bit of numbness around where the plate is,” Southee said upon arrival in Ahmedabad, two days before New Zealand’s tournament opener against England. “So I guess it’s just [about] getting used to that. And getting back into some bowling. Haven’t done a lot of bowling over the last couple of weeks, so it’s about getting your loads back up as well as managing the thumb.”
The outlook wasn’t always this optimistic. “It’s been a crazy couple of weeks,” Southee said. “A bit of a race against time to get here, but managed to get here and it’s a great place to come. It’s an awesome place to come and play cricket, let alone being a World Cup.
“[The injury was] something new. Haven’t done an injury like this before. I guess when something like that happens so close to a world event, your mind starts to drift towards that. With the limited time we had, I guess sitting down and working out the fastest recovery time, and the route back was to chuck some screws in it and a plate and hope for the best. Everyone I’ve dealt with and the process has been brilliant to get me to this stage. So fingers crossed we can carry on the recovery process and be right in time.”
The three World Cups that Southee has played have all been impressive for New Zealand. In 2011, they were the only non-Asian team in the semi-finals, in 2015 they made it to the final but lost, in 2019 they made it to the final, didn’t lose the match but lost the title on a boundary count back.
As they hope they can go one step further, the core of the team – injured and bruising right at this moment – might even get a bit emotional looking back at the joys and heartbreak of these campaigns undertaken together. Kane Williamson and Trent Boult have lived the heartbreak of 2015 and 2019 with Southee alongside some sweet memories, including the inaugural World Test Championship final.
“Obviously two very good mates and guys I’ve played a lot of cricket with. Not only for New Zealand, but going back through age-group cricket, domestically for Northern Districts as well,” Southee said. “So I think also two of our greatest, greatest players to have played the game. So it’s been a special, I guess 10-12…how many [ever] years it’s been, to play alongside those guys and see [them] grow from kids into two of New Zealand’s greats.”