Martin Guptill. Photo Getty
Test runs aren't coming easily for opener Martin Guptill,
but he has a backer in New Zealand batting overseer Bob Carter.
The Auckland opener, so effective in the white ball games,
has battled for runs in the last five tests. But Carter
dropped a broad hint there won't be a move down the order in
the second test against South Africa, starting at St George's
Park tomorrow night.
Against India, Sri Lanka and in the first South African test,
Guptill has mustered just 118 runs at 11.8.
Against the West Indies in July-August, Guptill rattled up
277 runs in four innings at 69, but it's been a different
story since. And his ODI (37.73 in 65 games) and T20 (33.93
in 38 games) numbers suggest he's got his short game well in
However, Carter is confident Guptill, who looked bewildered
on his second innings dismissal at Cape Town last week -
turning a ball heading towards the leg side straight to short
mid wicket - will come right.
"Martin's been searching for the ball a little in front of
himself," Carter said.
"We're trying to talk to him about that technically and he's
been putting in a little bit of work on that. It is something
we need to monitor."
Carter had heard the idea put about of a change at the top,
but made it clear he's backing Guptill to come through this
"Gup is a person who can handle it at the top and hopefully
he'll do that again."
And Carter raised an interesting theory. In their last two
series in India and Sri Lanka, New Zealand were poor in the
first tests, but bounced back noticeably in the second -
particularly at Colombo, which they won by 167 runs.
Carter didn't want to suggest New Zealand may be slow
starters in series, then effectively said it another way.
"It's almost like we seem not to be prepared for that
intensity we did face," he said. In technical terms, Carter
reckons New Zealand batsmen have the wherewithal, just not
"I think sometimes technically we are right up there," he
"For example the innings BJ Watling played (42 in 3 hours at
Cape Town) was technically very good. We've got
[centurymaker] Dean Brownlie, who I thought technically
played well. But there's always that step up to the mental
The challenge may be slightly less relentless without the
hamstrung Vernon Philander in the South African lineup. But
there's general acceptance the ball will swing at St George's
Park where Rory Kleinveldt, a big strong lump of a
fast-medium bowler, will play his third test in the
outstanding Philander's place.
"We know it will swing. It always swings here," Carter said.
New Zealand left arm swing bowler Trent Boult concurred.
"There's swing there, definitely, with the new ball but I'm
not sure how much it's going to hang around like the
conditions in Sri Lanka or India. It's a crucial part of it
to swing that new ball and use it as effectively as
And Boult gave an insight into the experience of bowling at
South Africa's champion batsmen like captain Graeme Smith,
Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis and AB de Villiers.
"You hear the crowd behind them," he said. "At the same time
it's something pretty exciting. I definitely live to get the
big players out and it's a great challenge."
- David Leggat in Port Elizabeth