Derbyshire ended the second day of their Championship match at Bristol on 511/8, 236 runs ahead of Gloucestershire after a thrilling double-century from the visitors’ New Zealand batsman Martin Guptill.
A little over a month ago had you asked most cricket fans which batsman they would back to smash bowlers to all parts of a cricket ground anywhere in the world and they would likely say Gayle, Finch, A.B De Villiers, maybe Maxwell or Pollard.
Few would have mentioned Martin Guptill. Then came his terrific World Cup knock at Wellington where he smashed the West Indies bowlers to all parts of the Westpac Stadium to score 237 from 163 balls – including 24 fours and 11 sixes. As such he became the first man to score a double hundred in a World Cup knockout match and the second highest One Day International scorer of all time behind Indian Rohit Sharma’s 264.
How Gloucestershire’s bowlers will wish that innings, which looks as if it may have changed the 28-year-old New Zealander’s career, had never happened, because today he did it again. This time it was in a red ball game where prior to today his strike rate had been a run for every two balls faced.
This time Guptill cracked 227 from 176 balls with 29 fours and 11 sixes for his highest first-class score. He reached his 100 from a relatively sedate 101 balls with 19 fours and only one six.
His second hundred came off just 64 balls. That he hit 10 more sixes after reaching his 100 before he was finally out with the Derbyshire score on 457/7 tells the story of how he plundered the hapless home bowlers.
He shared a stand of 190 for the fifth wicket with Shiv Thakor, who made a rather overshadowed but useful 83, which effectively swung the match very much in the Midlanders’ favour when it looked as if Gloucestershire may be fighting back, having dismissed Wayne Madsen and Wes Durston cheaply.
Derbyshire resumed their innings on a bright, sunny Bristol morning on 24/0. From the first ball of the day Ben Slater had a let- off as he was dropped at first slip by Geraint Jones. It was a straightforward chance from James Fuller’s bowling. Slater and Billy Godleman looked to capitalise on this reprieve with some positive batting against the young Gloucestershire quick bowlers.
This pursuit was aided by bowling that was often too short resulting in some meaty pulls to midwicket by both batsmen. In fact it was off just one such shot to the midwicket boundary that Liam Norwell dropped Billy Godleman. It was a sharp chance, the fielder doing well to get to the ball, but he couldn’t hold on.
The morning’s only wicket fell with the score on 88 when Godleman was caught behind off Norwell. Modern batsmen often delay their departure from the crease to indicate their annoyance with themselves. In Godleman’s case the delay was just that shade longer, such that one sensed his annoyance was with the umpire. This brought in Guptill who started carefully, giving no hint of the excitement that was to follow later in the day.
After lunch, taken at 118/1, Slater enjoyed his second reprieve as Tavaré dropped a sharp chance at point, but having added just seven to his lunch score of 50 the young Derbyshire left-hander was caught at second slip by Chris Dent off Norwell. Madsen and Durston soon followed Slater to the pavilion, both the victims of Matt Taylor, Durston being caught at slip by Jones who had shelled an easy chance from Guptill off Norwell when the Kiwi was on 57.
In the light of later events the exuberant display of self- congratulation by the relieved Jones may have been better had it have been Guptill’s wicket he was celebrating. Taylor later took the wickets of Thakor and Alex Hughes with successive deliveries, but useful innings of 20 from Tony Palladino and 43 not out from young wicket-keeper Harvey Hosein boosted the total to over 500 after Guptill’s dismissal.
It was a day Gloucestershire will want to forget. Their fielding was ordinary, as was their bowling. The only bowler to emerge with credit was left- arm seamer Matt Taylor who took 5-89 from 23 lively overs. Liam Norwell will rue the miss of Guptill from his bowling. It was a moment that may have changed the game. As it is, Derbyshire will hope to bowl the home side out on day three before the rain arrives on the last day as forecast.