Cow Corner

England beaten by Martin Guptill’s two toes and one hamstring

Martin Guptill, barring a miraculous recovery, has played his last match in this series.

But the New Zealand opener is no stranger to miracles, prising victory from the jaws of defeat for England after coming out to bat having retired hurt after pulling a hamstring.

People who look like walking is an intense effort (Mike Gatting excepted) are not generally associated with great feats of batsmanship.

And nobody would have begrudged Guptill an evening with the medics, assessing his injury and working out what the best way would be to get him ready for the Tests next month.

But Martin Guptill is not the retiring type. You’d probably expect nothing less from a man nicknamed ‘Marty Two Toes’ (you can see why if you dare, but be warned – you don’t get a name like Marty Two Toes by having a full complement of toes).

There were reports from the New Zealand dressing room that he would return to the crease ‘if required’ – and with seven wickets down, and batsmen running out, Guptill limped back out to the crease.

Cowers thought it was a bit mad – and he was right. But he also thought that sending out Kyle Mills, who would be able to run quick singles and play the foil for his captain would be the better chance of the Black Caps winning the match – and he was wrong.

Enter Guptill: 4-6-1-.-.-4-4-4-.-1

And with that, the contest was over – with seven balls to spare. In fact, he’d probably settled it even earlier when he played a late cut to Steven Finn over the third of third man and away for six, to the amazement of Seddon Park.

England, who felt they were finally reeling New Zealand in, were suddenly being assaulted by both batsmen, and lost their composure in the onslaught.

There had been little sign that it was coming – Guptill had earlier found James Anderson and Finn almost unplayable, scoring three in 17 before deciding he could no longer continue.

His sign-off though, was fitting – having levelled the scores with a boundary, he pushed a single for the winning runs, showing his limitations by limping the 22 yards to get his side home. He made it, and he deserved the applause that came from both sides for his efforts.

England fans tend to warm to cricketers who display a bit of bravery. Take Graeme Smith, previously just a brilliant captain-retiring automaton. In 2005 he won hearts and minds by going out to bat for South Africa in an attempt to save a Test and the series at the Wanderers, and scoring 67 not out in vain.

Implausible as it sounds that match, just eight years ago, occurred before the first summer of Twenty20 cricket, but this was an act of heroism for the T20 generation – ten balls of excitement that turned a limited-overs match.

Job done – and now Guptill can take his place on the treatment table and see whether New Zealand can win one of their next two matches and with it claim the series.

It’s probably just as well for England. Imagine what damage he might wreak if he had working hamstrings and all his toes on his left foot…