Martin Guptill hopes to face several of his Derbyshire team-mates in the international arena in the future.
The New Zealand international, who is returning for a second spell at the County Ground in 2012, is already looking forward to arriving in the UK and has tipped a trio of young Derbyshire players for higher honours.
“Everyone was very accommodating at Derbyshire last season and made me feel at home,” he said.
“There is a great bunch of guys there plus a coaching staff that really enjoyed having me and who I really enjoyed working with.
“There is also excellent young talent coming through and the likes of Ross Whiteley, Jonathan Clare and Dan Redfern really showed their worth last year.
“They’ve got a couple of big seasons coming up and hopefully they can push for higher honours.
“I’m looking forward to joining them again over there, playing some cricket for Derbyshire and hopefully scoring a few runs.”
Guptill joined the Falcons for the second half of the 2011 season and impressed at the top of the order in all forms of the game with his powerful brand of batting, scoring three centuries and eight fifties in all competitions.
He will rejoin the squad in time for the opening match of the season versus Northamptonshire starting on Thursday 5h April and will be available for the opening nine LV = County Championship games, plus five matches in the Clydesdale Bank 40 competition.
The cocktail of 40-over and first-class cricket is perfect for Guptill’s development at the present time, a key factor in the Kiwi’s decision to choose Derbyshire over a possible berth in the Indian Premier League.
“I need to nail my Test game,” he said. “That’s my number one priority at the moment and the only way to do that is playing more first-class cricket and getting the experience of batting for long periods in different conditions.
“I can get that by playing for Derbyshire again rather than the IPL.”
Between now and the start of the English season, Guptill faces the small matter of three Tests, three One Day Internationals and three Twenty20s against the world’s number one team South Africa.
A difficult task it may be, but Guptill has learned to trust his New Zealand team-mates in the trenches.
He said: “We have experienced players but also a lot of young guys in the squad and a big thing for us in the past few months has been our ability to fight to the end.
“We showed that in the Test against Australia at Hobart and also to beat South Africa in the Quarter Final of the World Cup.
“Never-say-die has become a big factor for the current New Zealand team.
“The match-winning performance from our bowling unit against Zimbabwe recently also bodes very well for the future and for the forthcoming Test Series against South Africa.
“They really stepped up taking 20 wickets in a day and it was a great win inside two days.”
Guptill grabbed headlines of his own during the recent HRV Cup Twenty20 competition with a sensation 120 not out, from 60 balls, versus Canterbury and an unbeaten 70 as the Aces won in the final versus the same opposition.
The Derbyshire opener scored 504 runs, in ten matches, during the competition at an average of 72, leading Auckland to their second successive Champions League qualification.
He said: “The century was a memorable knock - my first domestic Twenty20 hundred – and it was fantastic to do it in a winning cause.
“We were chasing around 180 and we weren’t looking like getting there. I thought I’d have bit of fun and try to hit a few out of the park.
“I managed to get a few out of the park and we won it off the last ball.
“We have won the HRV Cup again which means we will be going back for our second Champions League later in 2012. Hopefully the experience of this year will help us get through to the main tournament this time.”
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