For non-cricket fans, I have some bad news. The New Zealand cricket summer actually only started this weekend. What has come so far with a woeful Zimbabwe team was merely the curtain raiser to the main event, the arrival of the South Africans, the second ranked test team and third ranked one day team in the world.
The first taste was Friday night, with a commanding win by New Zealand in the T20 game in Wellington. Before we get too carried away, T20 is not really the South Africans favoured format. They are ranked fifth compared to our second in the ICC rankings. But the Black Caps looked as good as they have all summer.
There are some impressive signs. Doug Bracewell and Tim Southee are charging into the bowling crease. Kane Williamson is looking accomplished. But towering above them all is Martin Guptill. He is in the richest vein of form you could find, averaging over 100 in international cricket for the summer. Watching him on Friday night, in a form of the game that challenges a cricket purist, almost every stroke that Guptill played was a genuine cricket shot, with impeccable timing and a good degree of power.
Guptill is agile and a ball of energy in the field as well. You would think he would be a major focus for the Indian Premier League T20 teams. Well he would be, if it weren’t for the fact that he has ruled himself out, prefering to play county cricket in England so he can focus on developing his skills for all forms of the game. Could I love this man any more?
Well actually, yes. If he can keep this form up for the remainder of the summer- especially in the Tests where New Zealand will be tested to the limit from the South African bowling line up that includes Dale Steyn not here for the T20s.
I have sometimes wondered about playing cricket late into March, but if that means getting opposition like the South Africans and then the summer of cricket can become the autumn of Guptill then I’m more than happy.