Martin Guptill, born on September 30, 1986 is a fine one-day batsman for New Zealand who has already scripted a few memorable knocks. However, the talented Guptill has to prove his worth in Test cricket and has plenty of time on his side to do it. Nishad Pai Vaidya profiles Guptill’s career so far.
Balanced at the crease and with the ability to play all around the ground, Martin Guptill is one of the more talented cricketers to emerge from New Zealand. Since his international debut in 2009, Guptill has grown into a good one-day batsman who can tune his game according to the needs of the game. That ability has also spilled into T20 cricket, where he can script quick cameos upfront. Still one of the younger players, Guptill has a chance of becoming one of their best batsmen in the coming years. If there is anything, he has to aim to improve his performances in Test cricket.
Born in Auckland on September 30, 1986, Guptill started playing cricket at a young age. At the age of 13, he lost three toes on his left leg when a forklift ran over him. While he was in great pain, Stephen Fleming, the then New Zealand skipper visited him in the hospital. Such an injury would have obviously hampered him, but Guptill fought on and made his debut for Auckland Under-17s in 2003 and scored 76 on debut against the Central Districts side. He then graduated to the Auckland Under-19 side but his returns did not stop. In fact, he only got better. In his first 10 innings for the Auckland age-group sides, he recorded a score below 50 only once. He also played for New Zealand Under-19s at the 2006 World Cup.
Guptill moved to the senior Auckland side in 2005-06 as he made his debut across formats. His maiden First-Class outing was an interesting one as he was dismissed for a blob in the first innings and then scored 99 in the second. He wasn’t very consistent in First-Class cricket in the coming seasons and it was his List A form that got the attention of the selectors. During the 2007-08 season, Guptill hit 596 runs in 11 matches at an average of 59.60 with two tons and three hundreds. That put him on the flight to India with the ‘A’ side in 2008. On that tour, he did well in the First-Class matches and was then picked for the New Zealand one-day team for the series against the West Indians in 2009. Actually, his innings of 124 and 58 in the domestic one-day competition propelled him into the squad.
Unfazed by the big stage, Guptill smashed 122 not out on debut. He carried his bat through the innings as New Zealand scored 275. Sadly, it rained and they could not clinch the contest. Guptill then made his Test debut against the touring Indians later that year. As New Zealand lost that game, he scored 48 in the second innings.
While, Guptill has been fairly consistent in One-Day Internationals (ODIs), he hasn’t been very convincing in Tests. As of September 30, 2013, he averages 29.62, with only two tons, both coming against weaker sides. His highest score of 189 came against Bangladesh at Hamilton in 2010 and the 109 came against Zimbabwe at Bulawayo in 2011. Yet, there have been glimpses of form as he scored an 85 against India in the first Test at Hyderabad in 2010. On the tour to West Indies in 2012, he hit three fifties in two Tests — nearly getting to his third hundred at Antigua.
But, if one looks at him play in ODIs, one can see that Guptill has it in him to build an innings and make the others revolve around him. He is one player who can anchor the batting and someone New Zealand desperately needs. They have had their fair share of talented players, but somewhere the stability is missing at times. Someone like a Guptill can provide that. On the tour to England, he showed that he could be a serious match-winner. In the second ODI at Lord’s, he scored 103 not out as New Zealand comfortably chased the game. But, his knock of 189 not out is what defined him as a batsman. He paced it well and then unleashed his aggressive strokes towards the end.
He has played 75 ODIs so far and has scored 3,086 at an average of 39.92. Guptill has scored four centuries and 17 half-centuries.
Guptill also has added a bit of a theatrical element to his career. When he smashed his maiden T20 International ton against South Africa in late 2012, he hit a boundary off the final ball of the run-chase to get his ton and clinch the game for New Zealand. New Zealand needed four off the last ball and Guptill was on 97. What happened next is history!
So, there is a lot to look forward to from Guptill as his international career is still blossoming. Teams from around the globe have taken note of his talent as he played the Caribbean Premier League and also had a stint in County cricket. There is much more to come from him and his best may lie ahead.
(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)