Apr 292013

Published: 5:33PM Monday April 29, 2013 Source: ONE Sport

Injury-plagued opening batsman Martin Guptill has a tough task in front of him to force his way back into the Black Caps line-up during the England tour.

On the eve of the side’s departure for the northern hemisphere, coach Mike Hesson admits Guptill is very much on the outside looking in after New Zealand’s impressive batting efforts in the recent home series against England.

“Our openers obviously performed in the last series, so that will be hard to break into and our middle order is tough as well,” Hesson told ONE Sport today.

“Martin’s obviously got to score runs like everybody and put pressure on us, and wherever he puts pressure, that’s good for the side.

“Guptill brings some versatility, some experience at the top and he’s also batted down the middle, and he’s hungry for runs.

“We’ve got a lot of guys that are pushing for spots and with Doug Bracewell back in as well, he’ll be asking a lot of questions.

“Those first two games are really important for them.”

Hesson felt former Australia wicketkeeper Luke Ronchi’s skill set with the bat will prove valuable in the One Day and Twenty20 series after knocking on the door for selection for some time.

“He’s aggressive, he’s a boundary hitter, and he plays the short ball well, and we think we’ll get plenty of them,” he said.

Having come within a wicket of an unprecedented Test series win over England last month, Hesson believes the Black Caps uncovered a weakness in the England team, and although the world’s number two ranked Test side will be a different prospect at home, valuable lessons learnt in South Africa in January should help New Zealand’s cause.

“When the ball swung, we certainly created some opportunities, so hopefully we can continue to do that in England,” he said.

“They know their conditions well. Early season, it will swing and move around, so there will be more challenges than we showed in March in New Zealand.

“Our top order batting was critical (in South Africa). When guys attack you and create opportunity then you expose your middle order, and unfortunately we exposed our middle order to some high quality bowlers in South Africa with a new ball, and that’s not what we want to do.”

Further aiding the Black Caps’ efforts will be the absence of England’s best batsmen Kevin Pietersen, who has been ruled out of the series with a knee injury.

“We had him for the first two Tests but missing him in the third,” said Hesson. “He’s obviously a world class player so were certainly not unhappy that he’s not there.”

The Black Caps leave New Zealand tonight minus Ross Taylor and Brendon McCullum, who will miss the first warm-up match against Derbyshire due to IPL commitments.

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