New Zealand legend Sir Richard Hadlee has backed Tim Southee to go past his record of 431 Test wickets in international cricket.
Southee was awarded the Sir Richard Hadlee medal for the 2021-22 season, an honorable prize in Kiwi cricket. Hadlee, who has taken the most wickets for a Kiwi bowler, has backed Southee to go past his record in due time.
The 33-year-old new-ball opener currently has 338 Test wickets in 85 matches for New Zealand. He is 93 scalps behind Hadlee's record. Southee is also 23 victims shy of matching Daniel Vettori - New Zealand's second-highest wicket-taker.
70-year-old Hadlee spoke to Southee on the evening of his achievement and backed him to go past the 431-mark.
He told the media (as reported by Stuff):
"No doubt the 400 test wickets are in sight and maybe that magic number 431 is in the back of your mind. So, I’ll be watching that with some interest and if you are to reach that mark, I’m prepared to sit here and say, ‘it’s time for me to let it go’. I would be very satisfied and pleased that it would be you to do it – so there you go, there’s a wee bit of motivation for you."
Southee took 22 wickets in five Tests in 2021 at 23.45. His figures of 42-10-112-5 against India in the WTC final helped the Kiwis clinch an eight-wicket win at Rose Bowl, Southampton.
Hadlee reached his 431 wicket-mark in 86 Tests.
"You seem to be in total control of your game and bowling as well as you ever have" - Sir Richard Hadlee
Hadlee reminisced about the time he was a part of the selection panel that picked Southee for the first time to represent New Zealand and hailed his progress over the next 14 years.
"You’re a very deserving winner. We go back 14 years to when I was part of the selection panel who first picked you and to watch you develop over the years into the fine-tuned bowler you are now has been quite remarkable. You seem to be in total control of your game and bowling as well as you ever have. You’ve got a simple technique which is easy to repeat, and your skill sets have gone to another level."
Southee is currently in India, participating in the IPL and has played two games for the Kolkata Knight Riders.