Thursday, 17 November 2011

Guptill class to be seen once more

On any level, the announcement of Martin Guptill's return to Derbyshire next season is excellent news.

Without doubt, the player is a class act and, in my humble opinion, will be seen as one of the game's premier batsmen in the next couple of years, if he isn't already. There are not many international sides that he wouldn't get into at present, certainly not on his form of the past few months.

The runs flowed from his bat over the last few weeks of the English season, he toyed with Zimbabwe's attack and, since his return home to New Zealand, he has maintained his sparkling form. They are clear signs of a player who has come to terms with the demands of the international game and has worked out his own. Encouragingly, he is only going to get better.

His averages don't yet fully reflect his ability, but that will come. Guptill is like a few others who find themselves elevated through their precocious raw talent to a senior level before their mental and physical development fully justifies it. In such cases, as we have seen on a more local basis with Dan Redfern and Paul Borrington, there are more early troughs than peaks, as players struggle to adjust. Yet class will always see through.

What is impressive is that Guptill has forsaken the obvious greater rewards of IPL in favour of playing with his mates at Derbyshire, something that sets him apart from many of his contemporaries. I'm not privy to the niceties of his contract, but would guess that he could have earned more from a few weeks in India than he will do in England. The reality is that his game will improve more from the additional responsibility of a county stint, while the lure of playing in a positive, enjoyable environment was presumably a major factor in his return to the County Ground.

For that, of course, tribute needs to be paid to Karl Krikken and Luke Sutton. As the men at the helm, they have set the standard and have dictated the way the game is played and the environment that enables it to flourish. Such an environment, reported back by Azeem Rafiq, was a factor in David Wainwright choosing Derbyshire over other suitors and will doubtless help with the recruitment of others for overseas positions during the winter.

What we now know, rather than suspect, of course,  is that there will be a second overseas player from June onwards. My guess would still be Usman Khawaja, currently involved in the second Test against South Africa, but there may be others in the frame. There is also the question of the T20 to resolve. Guptill's June 12th departure will almost certainly be before the commencement of that competition. Whether that means one, or two players we'll have to wait and see.

A batsman and bowler, or two players who can do a bit of both, would do very nicely and would make Derbyshire a side to be reckoned with.

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