Two days after being released from his New Zealand contract, unwanted Black Caps opener Martin Guptill has been snapped up by the Melbourne Renegades.
The 36-year-old has been signed as a replacement for No 1 draft pick Liam Livingstone, who withdrew from the Big Bash tournament earlier this week due to an increased international workload, following his surprise inclusion in the England test squad to tour Pakistan in December.
Guptill, who has been out of favour with the Black Caps’ white ball sides, became the third player to get a release from his contract in recent months, joining Trent Boult and the retired Colin de Grandhomme.
He hasn’t retired from international cricket and still hopes to play in next year’s ODI World Cup in India, but stepped away from his central contract to pursue overseas T20 opportunities.
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Guptill joins a Renegades side which includes opener Aaron Finch and talented young Afghanistan offspinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman.
The Renegades struggled in last season’s Big Bash, finished equal bottom of the table with the Brisbane Heat, winning just three of their 14 matches.
Guptill will be the third Kiwi involved in this summer’s Big Bash alongside Boult (Melbourne Stars) and de Grandhomme (Adelaide Strikers).
“This is a new challenge for me, and it will be nice to call Melbourne home for the summer,” Guptill said in a statement.
“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 will link 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.
NZ Cricket chief executive David White said earlier this week Guptill had earned the right to play out his career on his own terms and was comfortable with the existing contracting and selection system.
Guptill could yet play again for the Black Caps in March-May next year when many of the country’s first-choice XI will be involved in the Indian Premier League.
The Aucklander is one of the greatest white ball batters in Black Caps’ history, scoring the most international runs for New Zealand – 3531 at a strike-rate of 135.70 and an average of 31.81.
He is the third-highest ODI run-scorer for the New Zealand men’s team – 7346 runs at 41.73, with a strike-rate of 87.29 – behind just Ross Taylor and Stephen Fleming.
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