New Zealand captain Tim Southee is hoping his side can build on their thrilling triumph over England last month when they host Sri Lanka in a two-Test series that commences in Christchurch on Thursday.
The Black Caps sent England tumbling to just their second Test loss under the watchful eye of new coach Brendon McCullum when they registered an exciting one-run triumph over the European side in Wellington last week, and the Kiwis now turn their attention to the visiting Sri Lanka for two red-ball contests in quick succession.
The series is part of the ongoing ICC World Test Championship period (2021-23) and Sri Lanka still have an outside chance of reaching June’s decider should they complete a 2-0 scoreline, but Southee is aiming to make it as difficult as possible for the tourists to achieve.
Southee is instead focusing on his team’s preparations and ensuring they take all the momentum from the England series into the visit of Sri Lanka.
“It has been great to have the amount of people who have been talking about Test cricket, to see the Basin Reserve filled for five days was great to be a part of,” Southee said.
“I think, just in general, the guys are pleased to see people talking about Test cricket. And Test cricket being exciting. England have played their part in that, over the last year or so. The guys still see Test cricket as the pinnacle of the game.
“It is a match that will be talked about for a long time, but they are a very humble group. Now our focus will shift to Sri Lanka.
“We are obviously out of the Test Championship, and they have got plenty to play for over the next two weeks.”
New Zealand’s preparations for the series have not been entirely straight forward, with key quick Kyle Jamieson remaining sidelined due to the back injury he picked up in England last year.
Former skipper Kane Williamson has also been absent from training in Christchurch this week, with the veteran remaining with family in Tauranga in the lead-up to mourn the death of his late grandmother.
“On behalf of the team, I think everyone is feeling for Kane at the moment and he is in the best place he can be. And that is with, in and around, his family. It is a sad time for the Williamson family,” Southee said.
“We are looking forward to Kane joining up. He has been able to train with the Northern Districts guys in Tauranga, so I am sure he will be hitting plenty of balls and making sure he is ready to go come Thursday.”