Melbourne Renegades will boast both Australia and New Zealand’s top T20 international run-scorers of all-time this summer after securing the signature of Black Caps veteran Martin Guptill for KFC BBL|12.
Guptill, who has fallen out of favor with national selectors of late owing to the rise of young gun Finn Allen, relinquished his New Zealand Cricket central contract on Wednesday in a bid to chase playing opportunities on the global T20 circuit.
The 36-year-old’s first stop will be the Big Bash as a replacement for No.1 draft pick Liam Livingstone, who withdrew from the tournament earlier this week due to an increased international workload after his surprise inclusion in the England Test squad for their tour of Pakistan in December.
Guptill will link up with the Renegades following Andre Russell’s four-game stint at the start of the tournament and will be available their final 10 games of the regular season and finals should they qualify.
His first game will be their December 28 clash with the Sydney Sixers at the SCG, a return to the scene of his only century in Australia where he smashed 114 off 102 balls in an ODI in December 2016.
Guptill joins Black Caps teammates Trent Boult (Melbourne Stars) and Colin de Grandhomme (Adelaide Strikers) in the BBL this summer, with that pair also opting out of New Zealand Cricket contracts earlier this year.
Big Bash stalwart Colin Munro will be the fourth Kiwi in the tournament beginning in just 18 days’ time after being taken by the Brisbane Heat with the 11th pick in August’s inaugural BBL Draft.
It will be the big-hitting right-hander’s second appearance in the Big Bash following a one-off cameo 10 years ago for the Sydney Thunder in BBL|02.
“This is a new challenge for me, and it will be nice to call Melbourne home for the summer,” he said.
“I’ll be trying to make as many runs as I can to help drive the Renegades back up the ladder and push for team success.
“I’ve crossed paths with a few of the guys over the years on the international circuit and know this will be a great team environment to be part of.”
Guptill has dominated white-ball cricket for the better part of a decade, amassing almost 11,000 runs across 320 appearances for his country in ODI and T20I cricket and playing a key part in their run to the 2015 and 2019 50-Over World Cup finals, and the 2021 T20 World Cup decider.
Only two men have scored more runs in men’s T20Is than the Kiwi great’s 3,531 – India superstars Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma – with his likely opening partner at the Renegades Aaron Finch three spots behind in sixth.
Guptill adds to a new-look Renegades squad this summer as they attempt to avoid a fourth consecutive wooden spoon, with significant T20 experience in Russell, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Akeal Hosein, Jon Wells and Tom Rogers an important focus for the club to compliment the youth they have built up over the previous three seasons.
Renegades skipper Nic Maddinson said that competition for spots would be important as they attempt to climb back up the table.
“There’s going to be older and younger players all disappointed by not being selected,” he told cricket.com.au.
“Healthy competition in good teams is what you want to see. If you look at the Perth Scorchers last year, probably the best team by a mile, and had a lot of experienced and quality players sitting on the bench for most of the season.
“It’s a really healthy environment and it allows the likes of Mackenzie Harvey, Sutho (Will Sutherland) and Jake Fraser-McGurk to come in and contribute rather than having too much pressure on them to win every game.
“That’s what can help their development and really help us as a franchise in the next couple of years.
“(It was) extremely important to get a player of his quality for 10 games plus the finals, which is what we’re aiming to be involved in.”
The Renegades have one spot on their list left to fill ahead of their BBL|12 opener against the Heat in Cairns on December 15 and could be in the market for a fast bowler following James Pattinson’s departure in June.
Melbourne Renegades BBL|12 squad (so far): Nic Maddinson (c), Zak Evans, Aaron Finch, Jake Fraser-McGurk, Martin Guptill (New Zealand), Sam Harper, Marcus Harris, Mackenzie Harvey, Akeal Hosein (West Indies), Ruwantha Kellapotha (Sri Lanka), Shaun Marsh, Jack Prestwidge, Kane Richardson, Corey Rocchiccioli, Tom Rogers, Andre Russell (West Indies), Will Sutherland, Mujeeb Ur Rahman (Afghanistan), Jon Wells