Cricket: Tim Southee reiterates commitment to test cricket, won't hand back NZ Cricket contract any time soon

Blackcaps test captain Tim Southee won't be following the lead of some of his teammates in chasing huge sums of money in Twenty20 leagues around the world.

In the past 12 months alone, New Zealand Cricket has seen a quartet of players opt out of central contracts, and choose to ply their trades as freelance cricketers for hire.

Trent Boult hasn't featured for the Blackcaps since last year's Twenty20 World Cup, and has spent the New Zealand summer playing in Australia's Big Bash League and the UAE's International League T20 along with Colin de Grandhomme.

Tim Southee appeals.
Tim Southee appeals. Photo credit: Getty Images

Martin Guptill joined Boult in Australia, as did Jimmy Neesham before heading to South Africa to play in the inaugural SA20 competition.

As the global game shifts away from international cricket towards the franchise model, it's likely more players will also opt out of national contracts to play as freelancers - as seen by teams like the West Indies, rarely able to pick their best players outside of World Cups.

For Southee, who was appointed test captain after Kane Williamson's resignation late last year, the priority remains with red ball cricket.

On Thursday, Southee will lead the Blackcaps in their first test of the home summer, taking on Brendon McCullum's England in a pink ball encounter at Mt Maunganui.

But, the New Zealand skipper acknowledges the temptation of chasing the Twenty20 dollar is a pressing one for a lot of players, even if he's able to turn it down - for now.

"I think it's something that most people are looking at and weighing up," Southee said. "There's just so much cricket these days.

"It's something that's changing - the times are changing, there's more tournaments popping up around the world.

"But for me at the moment, I still see test cricket as the pinnacle. I'm still loving playing it.

"As far as I'm concerned, my focus is solely on the two test matches coming up, and trying to perform for New Zealand."

If there was any further incentive needed for Southee to prioritise test cricket, the 34-year-old is nine wickets shy of overtaking former skipper Daniel Vettori (361) into outright second on the list of New Zealand's most successful bowlers.