Guppy, a star on two twinkling toes
Martin Guptill has hardly scored a run this World Cup, but it was in the field that he made the most telling contribution, running out MS Dhoni with a direct hit as the former skipper tried to farm the strike in the penultimate over of the chase. And it was not by chance. Guptill has been obsessed with fielding since his formative years. As a 17-year-old, he proclaimed he would become one of the best fielders New Zealand had ever had, despite losing three toes in an accident at 13, his coach at that time, Kit Perera, remembers.
“He’s got amazing balance, for a guy who’s got two toes… I think it’s a miracle,” noted Perera. “As a little kid, he would come and field over the other side of the ground when the premiers were practising, guys would hit balls way out and he’d try and catch them.”
From that early age, Guptill enjoyed fielding. “He would ask me to hit him catches until it was dark,” Perera recalled of the teenager also honed his reflexes as a goalkeeper for the school’s 1st XI football team. “He would practice, practice, practice. “[I would say] ‘my arm’s getting tired, Guppy, I need to go home, mate. Come on.’ He would catch catches till the cows came home. He would pick up balls and try and hit a stick. He saw the fun element in it. He was dynamite. There was something special about the boy. He’s a unique specimen.”
There is some natural ability to go with the hours of hard work,” James Pamment, who worked with the Northern Knights and is now with Mumbai Indians, told stuff.co.nz. “It’s his basic technique, because of the way he loads up and the way he lines up, he’s got a better chance of hitting the stump, whereas a lot of other guys will need a lot more shies at the stump to hit, because their basic techniques are not always as sharp as what they could be,” Pamment said.
“It’s alignment between feet, heads and shoulders. A lot of guys, because of their athleticism, find that quite easy to do, whereas for other guys, it’s a real struggle and they end up throwing without all the power going in the same direction. And his athleticism gets him to the ball quicker than most, so at times when they are judging ones and twos, they quite often get fooled by his athleticism and his speed to the ball.”
Funnyman calls Black Caps overperforming d@#ks
British comedian of Indian descent and star of the quiz program ‘The Chase’ Paul Sinha was in New Zealand in May and collected thousands of Kiwi fans for his stand-up set. ‘The Sinnerman’ Sinha – shocked at how his original team India got fried – threw a lippy chaff the Black Caps’ way as soon as it became clear a massive upset was imminent.
“Hastily changing the title of next year’s show for New Zealand to ‘Couldn’t you have just stuck to rugby you overperforming d@#$s?” he tweeted, adding of the Neesham blinder, “Well played New Zealand. The cleverer and the mentally stronger team. And that catch!”
While PM Jacinda Ardern’s reactions are awaited, former NZ PM Helen Clark who lives in the Eden Park neighbourhood, said, “All eyes now on final in London at Lords.” Another former state head John Key who had Brendon McCullum as part of his delegation on a state visit seemed to have had a prescient chat back in 2016 when they visited India. McCullum had apparently told him that the then-new captain Kane Williamson is “so good, he sees the seam” on a cricket ball hurled by the world’s fastest bowlers while talking to TVNZ’s Breakfast programme on Monday.
“I said to [McCullum], ‘when those really fast bowlers – Mitchell Starc and Mitchell Johnson – bowl at you can you see the ball or is it all reaction’? He said: ‘No, we see the ball, but I will tell you how good Kane Williamson is, he sees the seam.” Baz had apparently told Key that Williamson was “technically the best batsman New Zealand has produced. He’s just phenomenal. Very light hands.”
The Black Caps circa the entourage’s visit in 2016 were playing the deciding fifth one day international in India and had been dismissed for 79. The breakfast show host had quipped: “If only some of his mates saw the seam.” The PM had chortled light-heartedly: “They saw the dressing room rather more quickly than they would have wanted to.” Three years on, the Black Caps are seeing Lord’s with the World Cup firmly in their sights.
All Blacks cheering from Argentina
Whatever happens in the final, the Kiwi cricketers are not going to dethrone the All Blacks from the pedestal of the reigning deities in the rugby-mad country.
But that didn’t prevent the ruggers from losing sleep for two nights in order to cheer for the Black Caps as they upstaged India on the other side of the globe.
The All Blacks are in Argentina preparing for the Rugby World Cup in Japan later this year, and can relate to what the cricketers are trying to achieve. They have a preparatory test in Buenos Aires on July 20.
“So good,” said Ben Smith on Thursday. “Last night, I couldn’t really turn the telly off. We had training this morning but I just kept watching last night. It was awesome to see the boys get the job done.”
Anton-Lienert-Brown called it “pretty inspiring stuff.”
“It’s been a couple of late nights for the boys.”
There are plenty of cricket fans among the All Blacks.
“I think the whole country does (get into it) . It’s pretty exciting switching on the telly and seeing them go about their work. It’s going to be interesting watching the final and getting in behind them,” Smith said.
“I was fist-pumping after the third wicket, when we had them 5-3.” Added Lienert-Brown: “(Jimmy) Neesham’s catch was pretty special, then Guppy’s (Martin Guptill) run out … that was probably the key moment in the game.”
Despite the time difference and not being in a cricketing country, the All Blacks will find a way to watch Sunday’s final at Lord’s.
“I’m sure we’ll find a way to watch it,” said Lienert-Brown, with senior figure Smith promising: “We’ll make it happen.”