What do you do about Martin Gup­till?

Waitaki Herald - - SPORT - By DANIEL BIRCH­FIELD daniel.birch­field@wait­ak­i­her­ald.co.nz

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.

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