Martin Guptill is the outstanding candidate for this week’s Cricket World Player of the Week award. The 25-year-old hit three consecutive half-centuries in as many matches against Zimbabwe to make himself a shoo-in for the award.
In Monday’s second One-Day International he hit 77 from 80 balls to help his side to an unassailable lead in the three-match series, before contributing a brisk 69-ball 85 to the home side’s mammoth total of 373 for eight from their 50 overs in the third ODI, which was enough to give the Black Caps a series whitewash.
And if the visitors hoped that a change in format might rein in the man from Auckland they were wrong. He was in even more prolific in the opening Twenty20 International, striking an unbeaten 91 from 54 balls as New Zealand eased past Zimbabwe’s total of 159 for eight with ease.
Overall his week’s statistics record a total of 253 runs from 203 balls at an average of 126.5 and a strike rate of over 124. On top of this, his total of 13 sixes for the week contributed to some frightening figures for the visiting side’s bowlers, with Brian Vitori’s analysis of one for 105 from nine overs in the third ODI the in the format’s 3237-match history.
Since making his first-class debut for his state side, Auckland, in 2006 – he had earlier represented them at both Under-17 and Under-19 level – Guptill has become one of New Zealand’s most dependable batsmen in all forms of cricket, especially the limited-overs formats. His record at the top of the order in One-Day Internationals in particular stands out – almost 2000 runs at an average of over 40 and a strike rate of over 82 – when the twin facts that he plays much of his cricket on the traditionally seamer-friendly New Zealand pitches, and fronts up a fragile batting line-up are taken into account.
Furthermore, and commendably in the modern age, he has shown a willingness to improve his game in the longer format, and, following on from a successful stint in county cricket for Derbyshire in 2011, he has turned down the overtures of the Indian Premier League and will embark on an early-season stint with the Falcons again in 2012.
Other contenders for this week’s award included Guptill’s New Zealand team-mates Rob Nicol; who produced innings of 146 and 61 during the second and third ODIs against Zimbabwe; and Brendon McCullum; who struck a brutal 119 during the third match; as well as Shahid Afridi’s effort of five for 36 with the ball in Pakistan’s historic match against Afghanistan; and Gautam Gambhir’s match-winning 92 in yesterday’s CB Series match in Adelaide.
© Cricket World 2012