Big Bash: New Zealand slugger Martin Guptill set for Aussie stint

Dynamic New Zealand slugger Martin Guptill is on his way to the Big Bash after asking for a release form his national contract and he could land at the Melbourne Renegades.

Guptill, the leading T20 run-scorer in Kiwi history with 3531 runs, was released from his central deal “so he can pursue playing opportunities elsewhere” after being overlooked for the T20 World Cup.

Two Big Bash teams are looking for top-order batters, including the Renegades, after No.1 draft pick Liam Livingstone confirmed he wouldn’t be coming to Australia at all this summer because of international commitments.

The Renegades signed West Indian superstar Andre Russell for the opening four matches of the season when Livingstone first said he wouldn’t be available before Christmas.

Guptill, who has more than 8500 T20 runs worldwide, could now fill the void for the rest of the season and give the Renegades a blockbuster opening pairing with the Kiwi and potentially Aaron Finch.

Two other New Zealanders, Trent Boult and Colin de Grandhomme, have also turned their backs on contracts with New Zealand Cricket to travel the T20 circuit and will play in the Big Bash as a result.

Boult was taken with the No.3 pick in the draft by the Melbourne Stars, while de Grandhomme was drafted by the Adelaide Strikers

Guptill doesn’t have contracts with either the South African or UAE-based T20 leagues also being played in January and could be available for the entire BBL.

The Perth Scorchers are the other team looking for a batsman after Englishman Laurie Evans’ contract was torn up following a positive result on an anti-doping test during the English summer.

Evans returned the positive test in August and despite his strong denials of knowingly taking performance-enhancing drugs, the Scorchers moved to end his deal with a possible four-year ban hanging over his head.

The reigning BBL champs have previously been linked with former South African captain Faf du Plessis, who went undrafted as a platinum pick at the inaugural draft in September.

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