Cricket: Too soon to acclaim Guptill as the next Bradman

Martin Guptill's 100 on debut was like a shot in the arm for New Zealand but let's wait for the stardust to settle before we have the 22-year-old knighted.

Guptill's innings was all of that and a bag of chips, and has rightly been widely acclaimed.

His 122 not out was the second highest one-day score on debut.

West Indies great Desmond Haynes, who scored 148 in the late 1970s, still occupies the top spot.

Guptill notched his 100 in style when he whacked a six into the West Stand off Windies skipper Chris Gayle, drawing the crowd to its feet.

And the accolades have not stop flowing since.

Former international Craig McMillan described Guptill as a star in the making.

"He's a real find for the Black Caps and at 22 years old, I'm certain he has a big future in the national side," McMillan wrote in the Sunday News.

"Speaking of his age, I found it remarkable to watch how composed and mature he was at the crease."

Black Caps skipper Daniel Vettori was quoted in the Sunday Star Times as saying Guptill's arrival has finally given New Zealand some depth.

"It was one of the best innings I have seen in a long time . . . it was exceptional," he said.

"We've been crying out to produce batsmen of international quality so guys are putting pressure on the incumbents.

"It has always been the case, once you made the team as a batsman, it was difficult to get out of it. Now we are building that pool."

All stirring stuff but before we get carried away and pronounce Guptill the panacea for New Zealand's ills at the top of the order, perhaps we should take a deep breath and wait and see how the rest of the summer pans out.

After all, the Aucklander is still a relative newcomer to the New Zealand domestic scene.

A quick look at his first-class career should give the starriest-eyed advocate food for thought.

Guptill has played 19 first-class games and scored 889 at an average of 28.67, including one century and five half centuries.

It is a small sample but represents a relatively modest beginning.

His one-day record is much better. In 29 matches he has scored 1087 runs at an average of 43.48, including four 100s.

He also appears to be a player who gets the best out of himself on the big stage.

In last season's State Shield final he scored 110 in a losing cause.

Ordinarily, his innings would have been the winning of the match but Brendon McCullum smashed a remarkable 170 to help Otago win by seven wickets.

No-one is doubting Guptill's potential.

But, then again, no-one doubted Mathew Sinclair would go on to be one of the best batsmen New Zealand had produced after his outstanding test debut when he scored 214 against the West Indies in December 1999.

After 12 tests, Sinclair averaged 52.56 but he seemingly lost confidence at international level, and with it his average has plummeted to 32.55.

He last scored a test half century in November 2004 and has been in an out of the national side more times than he can remember.

Sinclair certainly has not enjoyed preferential treatment from the selectors, and at times has often found himself the scapegoat for poor performance by the national team.

But he is living proof a fantastic beginning is no guarantee for a long and prosperous international career.

With New Zealand's cricket's bad boy Jesse Ryder returning for today's deciding one-dayer in Napier, after missing the last match for boozing, Guptill will bat at first drop.

Why? He has just played a nicely-paced innings opening the batting and would seem the perfect foil for McCullum's more aggressive approach.

 

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