Guptill lifted by Crowe's advice
Get forward, despite the bounce. Do not let yourself get pushed back. Those were key words of advice New Zealand opener Martin Guptill took from a chat with Martin Crowe before the squad departed for the three-Test tour of Australia. And they are words that Guptill will take seriously at the Gabba, where Crowe scored 188 in New Zealand's innings win back in 1985.
Crowe has been a source of much wisdom for Guptill over the years; in the lead-up to the World Cup final, Crowe described Guptill and Ross Taylor as "the two sons I never had". It was a poignant comment in a heartfelt piece Crowe wrote at the time for ESPNcricinfo, in which he reflected on the pride in watching New Zealand's success at a time when he himself was battling terminal lymphoma.
At the time, Guptill was not one of New Zealand's incumbent Test batsmen, but he returned to the team for the tour of England this year and made 70 in each of the two Tests at Lord's and Headingley. Before this trip to Australia, Guptill visited Crowe and he said the advice provided by his mentor was simple and straight to the point.
"He said you've still got to look to get forward over here," Guptill said. "Even though there's a lot more bounce you still have to look to get forward, you can't just get pushed back and stay back. That's definitely one thing he's, not harped on about, but certainly tried to drill into my mind as well. He does know what he's talking about. Pretty good record and he definitely knows about the game. Anything he says you want to listen to."
There is no doubt about that. And Guptill knows having been dropped from New Zealand's Test side in 2013 that he will need to keep justifying the faith of the selectors in reinstating him this year. The last time New Zealand toured Australia in 2011, Guptill was part of the team that won in Hobart and leveled the series 1-1, but in four innings he himself managed no scores greater than 16.
"There were a few things," Guptill said of the changes he had made to his game since then. "Some have worked and some haven't. It's still a work in progress and all I can do is keep working hard and the changes I've made can help me bat a long time and score some runs in this series."
Guptill's opening colleague on this tour will be Tom Latham, and while the pair had three small opening partnerships on this year's England tour, they also put on 148 for the opening wicket in the first innings of the first Test at Lord's. Latham has struck two centuries and averaged nearly 40 in his first two years as a Test cricketer, and Guptill said they worked well together as a duo.
"He's had a great start to his Test career and he's a very talented young player," Guptill said. "He's just going to prosper, I think. We've got different styles of play. Batting together in the one-dayers has also furthered that batting partnership that we have. I love batting with Tommy and hopefully we can get a few more good partnerships in this series."
The Australians consider Latham a Chris Rogers-like presence at the top of the New Zealand order compared to the freer-hitting Guptill, and it is a role Latham has relished since joining the Test team in February 2014. He was just 19 when New Zealand and Australia last played a Test and he said that match - the New Zealand win in Hobart - was his best memory of previous clashes between the sides.
"We were all huddled around a phone for a school promotion for my home side, Canterbury," Latham said. "We were all huddled around the phone watching it. That was a pretty exciting time. It would be great to try to repeat that game."
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @brydoncoverdale