Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Martin Guptill signs

Amid all the conjecture regarding overseas players this winter I have seen Martin Guptill’s name mentioned once or twice. Such has been the focus of supporters on so-called ‘big names’, however, that he has perhaps slipped under the radar.

That should not detract from the fact that he is a very good player, one who has been compared by some good judges to the legendary Kiwi Martin Crowe in his style and poise at the crease. At 24 he shares his birthday with me (sadly 28 years apart…) and comes to England with a point to prove.

Guptill has faced accusations of giving it away when well set and against him stands the evidence of just one century in his Test career so far. Yet his county stint could well be the making of the player, as it was for his fellow country man John Wright thirty years ago. Being the ‘hired gun’ may well see Guptill translate delightful cameos into innings of genuine substance. To be fair there have been signs that this is coming, with telling contributions in the recent series against Pakistan. Some of these came in trying conditions and Guptill’s technique showed itself up to the task.

Where he should prove especially successful is in the T20, where his ability to clear the ropes should be handy in the powerplays. Last season I suggested that Derbyshire needed to find a couple of batsman of ability to draw in the crowds in the shortest form of the game, as well as providing pitches to allow them to play their shots.

We’re now halfway there. A likely top six of Guptill, Khawaja, Durston, Madsen, Hughes and Smith offers rich potential for some exciting strokeplay. If an attack of promise, but relative inexperience, can back them up there are the makings of an exciting campaign.

Martin Guptill is known among collectors of cricket curiosity for having only two toes on his left foot, the result of a fork lift accident when he was young. By the end of the season he could have cemented his reputation as a player of brilliance and proved to be an astute capture.

Put it another way. He can hardly be as bad as Chris Harris, while if he turns out to be another John Wright we will have few complaints.

Welcome to Derbyshire Martin. We’re looking forward to seeing you.

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