What do you do about Martin Guptill?
Black Caps opener Martin Guptill is a curious case. With the opening match of the Cricket World Cup a matter of days away, New Zealand’s top order is about the only thing that will be giving coach Mike Hesson sleepless nights.
Hesson is backing Guptill and is confident his woeful form will come right, but if Guptill wants to open at the World Cup he’s fast running out of time to prove himself.
This summer Guptill, who has a career average of 37, has averaged 19.81 from 13 turns at bat at a strike rate of 65.
That’s well below par, even for a tail-ender in the one-day game.
His last seven innings have yielded scores of 0, 10, 66 not out, 20, 0, 28 and 0.
The question is, should the selectors try something new before the World Cup? It’s a bit of a tricky one. Firstly, although it may seem unlikely at this point, there’s a chance Guptill will play himself back into some kind of form before the crucial stages of the tournament.
Hesson and his fellow selectors will be banking on it.
He will be there, having already been named in the 15- strong squad.
The only way he can be replaced is if he goes down with an injury.
Likely replacement at the top of the order, Tom Latham, hasn’t really made a case for selection over Guptill.
His returns have been meagre at best and for the New Zealand selectors it’s probably a case of better the devil you know in Guptill, than the one you don’t in the still green Latham.
Kane Williamson needs to stay at three as he’s New Zealand’s best batsman, while the only other possibility, Luke Ronchi, has more than proved he belongs down the order as a closer.
On his day, Guptill is up there with the most destructive one-day batsmen going around.
Sadly, the days where he plunders bowling attacks to all corners are few and far between.
It’s hard to know exactly where it’s gone so wrong for him.
His confidence looks absolutely shot.
He’s uncertain in his movements and position at the crease and is going at the ball far too hard or wafting at wide deliveries.
Perhaps it would be wise to have Brendon McCullum take strike for the first ball of the innings.
Two of Guptill’s ducks against Sri Lanka came first ball, one caught behind and one LBW.
It would take at least some pressure off, but whether or not it would make a huge deal of difference I’m not sure. It’s probably more of a mental thing.
If New Zealand are to be serious contenders at the World Cup then the Guptill conundrum needs to be sorted sooner rather than later.
Fans are quickly losing patience, myself included, while Hesson must be getting to that point too. There’s no doubt Guptill is a class act, he just needs to find his groove again.
Form slump: New Zealand opener Martin Guptill trudges off Wellington Stadium after being dismissed for a royal golden duck in the seventh oneday international against Sri Lanka.