Champions Worcestershire Rapids have re-signed New Zealand star batsman Martin Guptill – and the opener is available for the majority of the County’s 2019 Vitality Blast campaign.
Guptill, one of the most destructive players in world cricket, will join up with the Rapids at the conclusion of the ICC Cricket World Cup.
He will be available to play in 11 of the 14 group matches plus the quarter-final and final, should Worcestershire again progress to the knockout stages.
The 32-year-old played in the opening seven group games in the 2018 Vitality Blast and hit the fastest domestic century of the summer off just 35 balls against Northamptonshire Steelbacks at Wantage Road.
This earnt him the Walter Lawrence Trophy which was collected on his behalf by Worcestershire CEO Matt Rawnsley at a presentation dinner held at Lord’s during the winter.
Matt Rawnsley spoke to Guptill when he was in New Zealand in December and is delighted he is returning for a second spell with the Rapids.
He said: “We are delighted that Martin has committed to us again. I know that he really enjoyed his time at Blackfinch New Road last year and we talked then about him coming back, and carried on the dialogue through the winter.
“While there may be a commitment to New Zealand on their tour to Sri Lanka, we think Martin will only miss three T20 games out of 14 group matches, and be available for quarter finals and finals day which we really want to replicate again.”
First Team Coach Alex Gidman said: “It is a huge confidence boost and we are chuffed he is coming back.
“Guppy was wonderful around the group last year, a fantastic bloke, and he showed how good he was in a handful of wonderful innings for us.
“We’ve got to make sure all our processes are in place and our preparations are spot on to give these guys the best chance of going out and enjoying their cricket and winning matches.”
Guptill is currently in prime form after hitting back to back centuries for the Black Caps in Napier and Christchurch in the ODI Series win over Bangladesh.
He has been a massive part of the Black Caps success in white ball cricket, scoring 6,411 ODI runs at an average of 43.61 and 2,272 T20I runs at an average of 33.91 with a strike rate of 132.71, in addition to amassing 2,586 runs in 47 Tests.
Guptill hit the second highest ODI score of all time when making 237 not out against the West Indies in the 2015 World Cup quarter-final in Wellington.
He has been sought after in all the major competitions around the world and has appeared in the Big Bash, IPL and Caribbean Premier League.