BLACKCAPS opener Martin Guptill is back in England and straight into the runs.
The 28-year-old from Auckland retired on 161 from 108 balls in Derbyshire’s recent match against University side Cambridge MCCU, continuing his form from the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 and hitting six sixes and 19 fours in his innings before walking off unbeaten.
It is exactly the sort of innings that BLACKCAPS Coach Mike Hesson wanted to see. “Martin’s a classically-styled batsman and there’s really no reason why he can’t be as influential in the longer game as he is in the short,” Hesson said at the naming of the tour squad for England.
Guptill, who last played a Test on the corresponding tour of England in 2013, made his debut in 2009 and has two Test centuries to his name, including a highest score of 189. He boasts an average of just under 30 in 31 tests.
We caught up with the down-to-earth Kiwi ahead of the County Cricket season, which begins this week, as he presses for a place in the Test team.
How hard was it to come down after the ICC Cricket World Cup and get straight back into County Cricket?
It wasn’t too bad to be honest. The turn around was pretty quick so I was able to get straight into training and playing a warm up match.
What do you enjoy about playing County Cricket with Derbyshire?
I enjoy the guys in the team here. They're very welcoming and it’s nice to be back playing cricket with a few mates I made here during my last stint.
What sort of adjustments do you need to make getting back into the longer form of the game and in English conditions?
In swinging and nipping conditions over here you need to play the ball a bit later. That’s one big thing that I will be working hard on before meeting up with the Test team. I still think having positive intent to score is key to not letting you get bogged down at one end for long periods.
You hit 161* the other day against Cambridge – was that a good knock for the confidence?
It was great to spend a few hours at the crease and facing the red ball again. Any time in the middle is valuable warm up time for any cricket that you’re going to play.
What does it mean to have received the recall to the Test squad for the England Tour?
It means a lot. I've always wanted to get back into the Test team and fight hard to get that spot back in the staring XI. There's still a lot of hard work to do but I'm excited to be back in the squad.
For the uninitiated, what is it like walking out onto Lord’s for a Test match?
I haven’t played a Test at Lords yet but if I get the opportunity in the starting XI, I’m sure it will be an exciting and probably nerve wracking experience!
The BLACKCAPS struggled the last time they competed in England in 2013; would it be nice to prove a point in this series?
I think that the way the BLACKCAPS have played the game in the last 18 months, we don’t have to prove anything. We have played some very good cricket over that period and the challenge for us now is to be able to keep that positive and enjoyable cricket up. If we can do that then the results will take care of themselves.