Guptill called up as New Zealand batting cover
Martin Guptill has been added to the New Zealand squad as batting cover for the first Test against England but Ross Taylor is progressing well after the thigh injury he suffered in the one-day series.
Guptill's call-up confirms that the selectors still see a Test future for him after he last played against India in October 2016. Last season, Guptill announced he would be making a move into the middle-order to try and revive his Test ambitions but injuries have limited him to one Plunket Shield appearance since the decision in which he batted No. 3.
He made 73, also batting at No. 3, against England in Hamilton last week during the two-day red-ball warm-up and after that innings reiterated his desire to make a go of things away from opening in first-class cricket to earn back his Test place. The recall has come sooner than expected.
"I've got a couple more games to go for Auckland so hopefully I can get into the middle order and stay injury free," he told ESPNcricinfo. "I've still got ambitions to play some more Test cricket, I've got to score some runs to Auckland and hopefully the call will come. But if it doesn't, I've given it a good go."
Guptill's highest Test score of 189 came at No. 5, against Bangladesh in 2010, and his versatility helped him earn the spot but it is arguably not the greatest vote of confidence in some of the players coming through the Plunket Shield. The leading run-scorer this season is 38-year-old Michael Papps while Greg Hay, the 33-year-old Central Districts opener who faced England last week, is second followed by Jesse Ryder.
The other players with more than 500 runs this season are Luke Woodcock, who is 36, former Test opener Hamish Rutherford, Will Young from Central Districts and wicketkeeper Tim Seifert who has recently been capped at T20I level. However, the decision does mean a player hasn't been pulled out of the current round of matches.
Taylor was ruled out of the deciding ODI in Christchurch after aggravating a thigh injury from earlier in the series during his unbeaten 181 in Dunedin. He had also missed the match in Wellington.
"We opted for extra batting cover for that final spot and with Martin having been playing in the middle-order recently, he can cover a number of positions for us," selector Gavin Larsen said. "Ross is progressing nicely and is expected to take a full part in training [on Tuesday]."
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo