When Tim Southee had Shan Masood caught in the slips with his patented outswinger, he was engulfed in a bear hug by fast-bowling comrade Neil Wagner. Wagner had of course miscalculated for that was only his friend’s 299th Test scalp. Congratulations were officially in order only a little while later when Haris Sohail found short cover to send his dismisser into a very exclusive club of New Zealand cricketers.

Southee, who joined the legendary Richard Hadlee and Tim Southee in the 300 club on Tuesday (December 29), celebrated the special feat with his family at the grass banks beyond the boundary and remarked that it was a “pretty cool feeling” to reach a peak scaled by only 34 players in the history of Test cricket.

“Wags [Wagner] was actually one ahead of everyone else. He thought [number 300] was the first one and came in and gave me a big hug. I was like, ‘What’s going on here mate?,” Southee said.

“It is special. Obviously not many people have been able to do it and the two that have are two of our greatest ever cricketers. It’s nice to be in that bracket with those guys. When I was a kid, all I wanted to do was play cricket for New Zealand and to sit here after a reasonable time of doing that, having achieved a couple of things along the way, it’s a pretty cool feeling.”

Southee acknowledged that the milestone had been in the background through this Bay Oval Test, with claiming a 1-0 series lead at the top of his wishlist. The visitors have 302 runs more to win the game or bat out the overs on the final day with the seven remaining wickets to save the Test.

“We know it’s going to be a tough grind tomorrow but that’s the beauty of Test cricket; the beauty of turning up on day five and having the chance to win a Test match for your country,” Southee said. “We’re giving Kyle [Jamieson] a bit of stick. It’s his first day five in a Test match. Test cricket is tough, it’s hard and when you turn up on day five with all three results still possible, it’s a great feeling.”

Southee confirmed he wasn’t anywhere near the finish line, citing England seamer James Anderson’s longevity as an example for sustained success on the international circuit. “I’d love to play for as long as I possibly can,” he said. “Obviously there are high standards that come with representing New Zealand and as long as you can hold those standards, then age is only a number.

“I only just turned 32 the other day – people probably think I’m a little older than what I am – but it’s something I love doing. [But] You look at the likes of [England seamer] James Anderson, achieving what he’s been achieving at the age of 38, and Ross as well, the way he seems to be getting better and better with age. It’s just a number and as long as I can maintain the standards that are required at this level then I’d love to continue to play.”

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