Some might say that the ability to tackle adversity is a prerequisite for players that sign for Derbyshire, but none will have fought as hard to succeed against the odds than recent overseas acquisition Martin Guptill. The New Zealander was already a prodigious schoolboy talent when, at the age of 13, a family accident resulted in him having three toes amputated. The damage, incurred when his brother Ben ran over his left foot while operating a forklift truck, left medics with no choice but to operate. His misfortune did not stand in his way, however, and, having conquered doubts he could embark on a professional career, he announced his arrival on the international scene by becoming the first Kiwi to hit a hundred on one-day debut, against West Indies two years ago. Guptill, 24, has been an integral player for New Zealand since and clearly has the ability to laugh at himself. His dressing room nickname: Marty Two-Toes.
The timing of World Cup squad announcements meant some countries, including England, had to select their final 15 with as many as half-a-dozen matches still to be played in the interim. But there was little sympathy from Sir Ian Botham for the selectors’ decision to overlook Chris Tremlett for the event on the subcontinent. Speaking on Sky Sports, Botham called the omission of Tremlett ‘mindblowing’ and questioned the need for three frontline spinners. Time will tell, of course, but Andy Flower has thus far defied the law of averages in overseeing a chain of selection success stories since he went into partnership with Geoff Miller, Ashley Giles and James Whitaker. Flower, a meticulous planner, wants the extra slow man as insurance given the record of players succumbing to injury and illness on tours in Asia. Meanwhile, Tremlett could yet get in as an injury replacement with Yorkshire’s Tim Bresnan a doubt due to a calf injury.
England ruining Australia Day celebrations for the locals in Adelaide is nothing new but their silent response this year to the 21-run defeat in the fourth Commonwealth Bank Series match could not have been more of a contrast to the previous Ashes tour. The corresponding fixture in 2006-07 was considered the tourists’ lowest point of a disastrous trip by a good number of those present. Anticipating another one-sided contest, a cacophony of boos from the stands greeted then captain Andrew Flintoff’s decision to bat after winning the toss, and the noise continued as wickets tumbled and Australia demolished their opponents for just 110. The hosts cantered home by nine wickets before the floodlights took effect, prompting coach Duncan Fletcher to take the unprecedented step of offering a public apology for the display.
Leicestershire’s Will Jefferson could soon have to share his tag as county cricket’s tallest player. Opening batsman Jefferson stands at 6ft 10ins, exactly the same size as Jordan Rollings, an academy seamer with Sussex, who was a regular with the second XI last summer and whose ability to gain extra bounce could lead to a senior breakthrough in 2011. Records suggest that another Sussex player, Paul Dunkels, is the only previous county performer to have looked down from such a lofty height.