Auckland’s Martin Guptill walked out onto Eden Park at midday a stopgap solution to Jesse Ryder’s drinking problem, and walked off a bit over three hours later to a well-deserved standing ovation. The 22-year-old carried his bat for 122 not out at a strike rate of better than 90, and entered a bunch of record books in the process.
His innings was the second-highest score on debut of all time, beaten only by a man named Desmond Haynes’ 148 against Australia in ’78. Not to detract from Haynes’ remarkable innings, but it was made against an Australian side decimated by the Packer crisis, with 9 debutants. Guptill blew past Fleming’s 90 against India on debut, and snuck past Nathan Astle’s 118 to be the biggest score by a New Zealander against the West Indies. It was the fifth highest score by a New Zealander carrying their bat in all one dayers. But it was the style which really made it gleam.
We had a pretty good year for new entrants to the side, with Southee, Ryder, Flynn and MacIntosh all looking solid in their starts in 2008, but none can rival Guptill’s innings. He batted with a cool head, starting fast, turning over the strike regularly through the middle stages, didn’t lose sight of his gameplan when key wickets fell at the other end, and closed out magnificently. Plus the unflinching approach to his century, and the brutal audacity to hit the previously economical Gayle for a monstrous six to bring it up speaks volumes about the kid.
All we have to do now is pray the weather keeps away and we get an official game here. I’m typing this about 500m from eden park, and the sky’s dark and air thick with humidity, but it doesn’t have that cloudburst feel either. Fingers crossed, because that was one of the best one day innings I’ve seen, in its context, and deserves to stand as such. Martin Guptill, DeadBall agrees entirely with the terraces worshipful stance.