T20 World Cup: Veteran Tim Southee still wants to 'improve and get better' for New Zealand

New Zealand seamer Tim Southee believes he has avoided getting left behind in T20s because he has worked very hard to stay relevant.

While he is not the quickest of fast bowlers and is not especially reliant on variations, Southee has been present at every T20 World Cup for New Zealand since 2010 and is currently the format's leading international wicket-taker of all-time.

He has been influential at the outset of New Zealand's latest campaign as his accuracy with the new ball and subtle dips in pace have helped the Black Caps successfully defend totals in their two wins.

A stingy economy rate of 2.91 is comfortably the best in the tournament so far and how he fares against England's misfiring top-order could go a long way to determining the outcome at Brisbane on Tuesday.

The 33-year-old told the Planet Sport: "When you're still here after a long period of time, you must have done something right along the way. Hopefully there are many more years to go.

"I think the key for me is continuing to learn and looking at ways to get better, adapting your game and the older you get the more experience you have as well.

"You always have to have the mindset of wanting to improve and get better, whether that's changes of pace, looking at different variations you can bring into your game.

"I'm probably a little bit smarter than what I was back then, a little bit wet behind the ears in those early years. I guess you have to evolve with the game and if you don't you get left behind."

Since the start of 2021, Southee has averaged 19.58 against a career 23.98 while his economy rate is lower as well, perhaps aided by playing more games with World Cups in successive years.

Whether he has grown into a better bowler in recent years is difficult to quantify for Southee, though.

He said: "I've always looked to swing the ball, that's always been something that's stayed true to me.

"The way batters are playing and shots they're playing now, you have to just be not as predictable as you used to be able to.

"There was only a handful of players that used to be able to lap and reverse lap where it's almost par for the course now."

Southee took 1-24 to help stifle England in last year's semi-final, where New Zealand prevailed to end Eoin Morgan's side's hopes of unifying both limited-overs World Cups.

Now captained by Jos Buttler, England have another opportunity to add the T20 crown to their 50-over title and become the first side to hold both simultaneously but their penultimate Super 12s fixture seems to be make or break.

New Zealand, by contrast, hold the upper hand in the group and appear well-placed for a top-two finish and a semi-final place.

Southee added: "It's always a great game against England and it's always played in pretty good spirit.

"It's a game we always look forward to - England have been a great side for a long period of time, they play an exciting brand of cricket so it's always a game that we look forward to."

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