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Test team need Guptill

By Peter Martinez

The Black Caps’ 68-run defeat in Sunday’s opening Chappel-Hadlee one-day international cricket series match might have been hard to digest given an SCG pitch that held few demons but a couple of talking points were raised.

The debut of raw Aucklander Lockie Ferguson, 25, was pleasing even though his figures of 1-73 (including four no balls) weren’t persuasive.

But his one blistering series of deliveries, each clocked at more than 150kmh, in one over — certainly was.

He also claimed the prized wicket of combative Australian opener David Warner.

It is the first of many that is expected over the course of a potentially long career in all three forms of the game — that is if he is properly managed and stays fit and healthy.

It brings to mind Shane Bond’s New Zealand debut — at age 26 in a Test against Australia in 2001 at Hobart.

The former bowling spearhead took 1-135 off 28 overs, but he too got a big name as his first scalp — Steve Waugh, lbw for a duck.

More importantly, his speed, consistently clocking deliveries in the high 140s and the occasional fearsome ones at more than 150kmh, gave the Australians the hurry up — something missing from then skipper Stephen Fleming’s arsenal.

Bond’s ODI debut, also against Australia at Melbourne in the New Year showed just how much of an asset he had become in a handful of weeks.

He knocked over polished runmakers Mark Waugh, Ricky Ponting and Michael Bevan while conceding 53 runs from his 10 overs as New Zealand successfully defended a paltry 199 to win by 23 runs.

The other point to emerge from a frustrating night on Sunday was the performance of Martin Guptill.

The enigma that Guptill is, shone like a beacon as he blasted 114 off 102 balls.

His ability to handle the new ball in coloured clothing was in so sharp a contrast to his struggles in the Test arena that a commentator or two were moved to call for his return to the Test side.

Many of Guptill’s shots and boundaries were crafted with classical batting technique.

He also showed no fear swatting Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood across the boundary line and seemed untroubled by the leg spin of Adam Zampa, wily spinners long exposing his Achilles heel in Tests.

No, it is imperative that Guptill should not return as an opener — where Jeet Raval and Tom Latham have shown the potential to develop into an enduring combination.

Guptill, whose fielding skills and passion for the game have never been in question, should bat at No 5 in the Test lineup where Henry Nicholl has struggled since his debut last February.

He has an average of 24.23 from 14 innings in nine Tests with a highest score of 76.

Guptill became the quickest New Zealand player to reach 5000 one-day runs on Sunday.

His Test stats are 47 matches, 89 innings, 2,586 runs and an average of 29.38.

He also has a highest score of 189 in white clothing.

If anything, he has earned a chance to re-establish a presence in the Test lineup.

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