From being dropped for the ODI series in Bangladesh last October, Martin Guptill is now an integral part of the New Zealand team. He opened the innings in all three formats during the ongoing series against Pakistan and, in the last six months, has transitioned from being someone struggling to find a place in the team to a key cog in the set-up.
Guptill began 2010 with 189 against Bangladesh in the Hamilton Test. He made 91 against them in the third ODI in Christchurch but his form fell away after that knock. He scored only 85 runs in the five-match Chappell-Hadlee series and a solitary half-century in the two Tests that followed against Australia. His form slumped further in the tri-nation tournament in Sri Lanka, where he made just 11 runs from three games, which included two ducks. He was dropped for the tour of Bangladesh and was picked in the New Zealand A squad for their trip to Zimbabwe instead.
"It was extremely difficult," Guptill told NZPA. "You feel like everything is running against you, whether it be on or off the field. You beat yourself up inside, trying to get that confidence, and it just doesn't work. You've got to try and stay as confident as possible and hopefully the results come from that. I just went back and had a look at what I was doing well and what I wasn't, and just started doing the little things right."
Guptill had a steady tour of Zimbabwe with the A team and was recalled to the Test squad for the series in India after New Zealand lost the ODIs 4-0 to Bangladesh. He did not play the first Test but got a chance at No. 3 in the second in Hyderabad, where he made 85 in his comeback innings.
"The first week in India I started to get that confidence back," Guptill said. "I think it was after the second training before the first Test, I started seeing the ball well and hitting the ball well, and from there I went to the second Test and got that 85. From there I think I've been on quite a high and hopefully it goes well for another couple of years."
Guptill failed to impress in the third Test against India but made 70 in the second ODI in Jaipur. He was New Zealand's best batsman in the two-Test series against Pakistan at home that followed, making 163 runs at an average of 40.75. Guptill, who batted at No. 3 in the first Test, opened in the second in Wellington. New Zealand coach John Wright was impressed with Guptill's opening qualities and he has now been earmarked as a regular opener in the one-day series as well leading into the World Cup.
"It's what I'm comfortable with, so at the moment I'm happy with where I'm batting, but I'm also happy to bat at No 3. I don't find there's too much [difference]. I'll bat anywhere for New Zealand," he said.
The Guptill-Jesse Ryder combination that was tried in the first ODI against Pakistan in Wellington is likely to be New Zealand's preferred combination for the World Cup. They put on 84 runs off 60 balls.
"The guy's [Ryder] a fantastic talent and hopefully he stays fit over the next couple of years so he can put some big numbers up for New Zealand. I love batting with Jesse. We give each other a bit of stick out there and just try to make batting as fun as we can."
However, Guptill, who signed to play for Derbyshire, will open with Jamie How in the third ODI against Pakistan on Saturday as a result of New Zealand's rotation policy for the series. "It's not really disruptive, there's a good feeling in the camp at the moment. We're just looking forward to getting some good weather and getting on to the park for these last four games, which are vital for us going into the World Cup."
New Zealand lead the six-match series 1-0 after the second ODI in Queenstown was washed out on Wednesday.