March 3, 2017

Outstanding in ODIs, mediocre in Tests

Martin Guptill makes big hundreds for fun in ODIs, but in Tests he has struggled to make an impact despite having played almost 50 matches

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WATCH - Guptill's incredible 180*

In the fourth ODI against South Africa, Martin Guptill proved once again - if further proof was required - what a champion he is in the 50-over format. His unbeaten 180 in the Hamilton win is the fourth-highest score in an ODI chase, and the third highest in all ODIs for New Zealand - the top two also stand in his name. He is third among New Zealand batsmen with most ODI hundreds (12), and his average of 43.98 is third among 58 New Zealand batsmen with 500 or more ODI runs - only Glenn Turner and Kane Williamson have higher averages.

In Tests the Guptill story is entirely different: it is dominated by a string of low scores, and an inability to convert starts. In his last 30 Test innings, he has gone past 20 on 14 occasions, but only two of those innings were higher than 75, and one over 100; eight times he was dismissed between 21 and 49.

Guptill's overall career numbers amply demonstrate this dichotomy: his ODI career average is in the mid-40s, and he has been particularly resplendent in this format in the last couple of years, while his Test average continues to languish in the late 20s, with no real sign of a revival.

Guptill in Tests and ODIs
  Tests ODIs
Period Inngs Runs Ave SR Inngs Runs Ave SR
Till Dec 2014 59 1718 29.62 43.40 87 2953 37.85 80.20
Jan 2015 onwards 30 868 28.93 54.59 52 2457 54.60 99.03
Career 89 2586 29.38 46.61 139 5410 43.98 87.78

While there have been players who have done better in ODIs than in Tests in the past, it is quite unusual for a batsman to average so much more in ODIs compared to Tests, despite getting ample opportunities in each format. The difference between Guptill's ODI and Test averages is 14.60; among all batsmen who have scored 2500-plus runs in each format, none have a higher difference. The next highest is 12.87, for MS Dhoni, but Dhoni's ODI average is skewed by not-outs: he was unbeaten in 67 out of 249 innings.

Among top-order batsmen Jonathan Trott is next, with a difference of 7.17, which is less than half the difference that Guptill has had in his career so far. Trott, though, was an accomplished Test batsman with a healthy average of 44.08; in ODIs his average was an exceptional 51.25, though his strike rate was a middling 77. Guptill has managed a high ODI average at a strike rate of very nearly a run a ball. Graeme Hick and Shane Watson, two other batsmen who never quite cracked the Test code, are also in this list. With a slightly lower cut-off, the batsman whose averages most resemble Guptill's is the South African Boeta Dippenaar: he averaged 42.23 in ODIs (though at a much lower strike rate than Guptill), but only 30.14 in Tests, over 62 innings.

The difference of 14.60 between Martin Guptill's ODI and Test averages is the largest among batsmen who have scored 2500-plus runs in each format © ESPNcricinfo Ltd

When limiting the members to openers alone, the difference between Guptill and the others is even more stark. For a start, Guptill has done better as opener in ODIs and worse in Tests, in comparison to his overall career numbers in each format. The difference in averages - which is 14.60 over his entire career - increases to nearly 19 when his stats as opener are considered. The next highest is about one-third that number - Geoff Marsh's 6.41, followed by Watson's 4.16 (with a minimum qualification of 2000 runs as opener in each format). Clearly Guptill has been as much a success in ODIs as he has been a failure in Tests.

Openers with largest differences between ODI and Test averages (Min 2000 runs in each)
Batsman Test runs Ave ODI runs Ave Diff
  Martin Guptill  2062  27.49  4785  46.46  18.96
  Geoff Marsh  2819  33.56  4357  39.97  6.41
  Shane Watson  2049  40.98  3882  45.14  4.16
  Grant Flower  2373  29.30  4409  33.15  3.85
  Tillakaratne Dilshan  2170  42.55  7367  46.04  3.49
  Roshan Mahanama  2069  29.14  3283  30.97  1.83

On current form, Guptill is undoubtedly one of the best ODI batsmen going around, with an average of 54.60 and a strike rate of 99.03. Multiplying the average by the runs per ball gives him a batting score of 54.07, which is third among batsmen who have made 1500-plus runs. The top five batsmen on this list are clearly the heavyweights in the format today.

In Tests, though, he languishes at the bottom of the pile, with the lowest average among the 81 openers who have scored 2000-plus runs. Among the 218 top-order batsmen (Nos. 1-7) who have scored 2500-plus Test runs, only six have a lower average, of whom three are wicketkeepers; the others are Mohammad Ashraful, Alistair Campbell, and Roshan Mahanama.

Top ODI batsmen since Jan 2015 (Min 1500 runs)
Player Inns Runs Average SR 100s Ave x SR/100
 AB de Villiers  37  1942  69.35  119.50  6  82.87
 David Warner  42  2407  61.71  107.88  11  66.57
 Martin Guptill  52  2457  54.60  99.03  7  54.07
 Faf du Plessis  42  2000  57.14  89.92  5  51.38
 Virat Kohli  33  1547  55.25  91.81  6  50.73
Poorest averages for Test openers (Min 2000 runs)
Player Inns Runs Average 100s
 Martin Guptill  75  2062  27.49  2
 Roshan Mahanama  72  2069  29.14  3
 Grant Flower  84  2373  29.29  5
 Kris Srikkanth  72  2062  29.88  2
 Graham Dowling  71  2177  31.55  3
 Pankaj Roy  74  2220  31.71  4

In Tests, Guptill's biggest problem has been tackling the new ball and the fast bowlers when conditions are often favourable for them. Against pace in the first 15 overs of an innings in Tests, Guptill's average is 26.61, and he scores at a strike rate of less than 50 during this period. In the same period in ODIs, Guptill's average is 42.75, and he scores at a strike rate of 83 against fast bowlers.

The comparison that best encapsulates Guptill's Test and ODI numbers, though, is his head-to-head stats against Josh Hazlewood in the two formats. In Tests, Hazlewood has been all over Guptill, dismissing him four times in 119 deliveries, and conceding only 32 runs - that is, an average of eight runs per dismissal, and a strike rate of 27. In Tests, racked with self-doubt and uncertainty regarding the best approach against a bowler of nagging accuracy and great skill, Guptill has come a cropper, hitting only four fours in 119 balls.

In ODIs, the narrative of the contest changes completely. Armed with greater confidence, an uncluttered mind, and the freedom to attack, Guptill has dominated the contests, hitting 92 runs off 97 balls without being dismissed. The sheer contrast of these two comparisons aptly summarise the Test and ODI journeys of Martin Guptill.

Guptill against pace in the first 15 overs, in Tests and ODIs
Match type Runs Balls Dismissals Average Strike rate
 Tests  1038  2086  39  26.61  49.76
 ODIs  2779  3350  65  42.75  82.95
Guptill against Josh Hazlewood, in Tests and ODIs
Match type Runs Balls Dismissals Average Strike rate 4s/ 6s
 Tests  32  119  4  8.00  26.89  4/0
 ODIs  92  97  0  _  94.84  8/4

S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. @rajeshstats

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Bryce on March 10, 2017, 2:04 GMT

    I have pushed for him to bat in the middle order since Brendon McCullum retired. The door was wide open to put Guptill straight into the vacated number five spot in Tests. I am not just saying this in hindsight but for the following reasons, 1)he had already done very poorly as a test opener 2)as someone mentioned he has performed well at test level in the middle order though with limited opportunites and 3)not long before he cracked a 150 ball double century for Derbyshire in the County Championship. It is too bad that the Derbyshire selectors had more clues about his long form game than the NZ selectors. Yes they wanted to include Nicholls on merit and supposed that no other openers in NZ were more deserving of a spot so the easiest thing to do was to keep Guptill as opener, but as we now know this mode of thinking resulted in a net loss for New Zealand cricket. There are attacking one day openers who bat lower down in test matches such as Gilchrist and Astle. NoSaleem Elahionlists?

  • Harindranath on March 4, 2017, 17:07 GMT

    Guptill need not be compared with player like Hick, Marsh etc. All the other players played in tests batting in position they were familiar with. Guptill in longer duration is a middle order batsman but he is forced to open as per the whims and fancies of captain , coach and selectors

  • amindh6043107 on March 4, 2017, 15:55 GMT

    Lots of similarities to Rohit sharma and even to upul tharanga to an extent

  • Ahmad on March 4, 2017, 0:30 GMT

    Opening is the toughest position whereas no 5 easiest. Bcz 1. you have to face oppositions best bowlers, 2. while they r absolutely frest 3. against new ball that moves around for 10 overs & you got to be always there against it. No reprieve.

    That's why Mathew Hayden was biggest impact test player ever. If Guptill or Watto or even Sehwag got 3 down position they would have been piling up tons of runs. In ODI's 1 down is best position

  • Yasein on March 3, 2017, 21:42 GMT

    Remove Henry Nicolls and insert Guptill. Is it that hard? Although Henry nicolls is coming off a Test 100. Was it a 100? I forgot. He should be persisted with for this series and if he fails than Guptill gobbles down his spot.

  • David on March 3, 2017, 19:42 GMT

    @ JOHNTHEKIWI, agree he should be tried lower down the order in tests, maybe at 5 or 6. I am not at all sold on Nicholls, maybe one day he will eventually come good. As a result, they should go into the test with the extra batsman and bring in Patel for Santner, who will prove more effective against the lefties. But they continue to persist with the all-rounder which has not worked against the higher ranked test teams. They would not have this problem if Ryder was still in the team but that's another story.

  • Joe on March 3, 2017, 19:14 GMT

    Guptill has batted at 5 six times. He got 1 hundred and 2 fifties. I think he was moved (primarily for convenience) but the excuse was he gets bogged down against spin. Maybe a revisit to 5 could be in order if Nicholls doesn't make the most of his opprotunities

  • Shekar on March 3, 2017, 17:50 GMT

    If his technique is the issue, there is not many places you can hide in Test cricket. But NZ could have or still can try playing him a bit down the order at number 5 or 6

  • karthick on March 3, 2017, 17:09 GMT

    Guptill is like Rohit Sharma for India. You can open with him in ODIs not tests. Send him at number 5 , he is sure to click.

  • johnthekiwi on March 3, 2017, 15:50 GMT

    I don't think it is an enigma. The guy has buckets of talent but just not the technique to open against the new cherry. He was more or less press-ganged into the spot to begin with. Everyone knows he has massive skills and he might be worth a dozen runs saved a day as a fielder. People didn't seem to have a problem with B.Mac coming in and slogging down the order and failing as often as not. Guptil is way more valuable as a naturally attacking 5 against a softer older ball and tired bowlers than a tentative two minded 1 (as Marauding J points out). I think Nicholls is worth persisting with but on the assumption NZ want to play an "all rounder" at 6 and are locked into Watling, Santner, Southee, Wagner and Boult from 7-11 for the foreseeable future then he will be the odd guy out in a Guptill middle order scenario unless he puts up his hand to open if JR or TL lose form. That would probably set him on the same path as Guptill though. NZ test selections baffle me at the best of times.

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