Colombo: New Zealand’s Martin Guptill went through “the best and worst day” of his career during last month’s Cricket World Cup final against England but the opening batsman’s focus has now firmly shifted to the World Twenty20 in Australia next year.
Guptill was heavily involved in two pieces of action that defined last month’s World Cup final, with his throw from the outfield deflecting off Ben Stokes’ bat for four to give England a valuable six runs and allowing them to tie the game.
The 32-year-old Guptill was then run out off the final ball of the super over attempting the second run that would have given New Zealand the title. England eventually won their first 50-over World Cup by virtue of having hit the most boundaries.
“I guess you see it as the best and the worst day of your cricketing career,” said Guptill, after he joined New Zealand’s squad in Sri Lanka for their three-match Twenty20 series that starts on Sunday in Pallekele.
“The ebbs and flows of the game made it such a good one for the spectators. It was just unfortunate we came out on the other side of it.”
England’s spectators, still basking in the euphoria of that victory, did not spare Guptill as he stayed in the country on a short-term contract with Worcestershire to play Twenty20 cricket.
“I got a bit of stick from the crowd,” Guptill said of his matches in England. “I think it was actually even home games I got a bit of stick.
“It’s something you’ve just got to put up with and move on pretty quickly. I’m here now with the boys and raring to go.”
For the T20 games, Guptill joined a New Zealand side that included just four players — bowler and captain Tim Southee, batsman Ross Taylor and all-rounders Mitchell Santner and Colin de Grandhomme — who drew the two-match test series.
New Zealand’s focus over the next 12 months will be on the shortest form of the game, with the World Twenty20 in Australia scheduled for next October and November.
The Sri Lanka series, while not played in conditions they will expect in New Zealand or Australia, would allow the team to get back into the rhythm of the format, Guptill added.
“T20 World Cups are always good fun,” he said. “With it being in Australia next year it’s completely different conditions to what we face at home as well.
“It’s going to be nice to start off our preparation here, playing in some trying conditions and then head home with a good five (match) T20 series against England to lead off the summer.”
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Smith, who missed the ODI series against England, has undergone various concussion test protocols and is ready to tee off.
The tournament, already delayed from August and September, had been expected to be staged in New Zealand from 7 November to 12 December because of New Zealand’s initial success in containing the coronavirus pandemic.
Brendon McCullum, who led the Black Caps to the 2015 World Cup final, heaped praise on captain Kane Williamson and said its time for New Zealand to get over the excuses of the past.