Alastair Cook identifies injured Martin Guptill's innings as key to England's opening ODI defeat

Last Updated: 17/02/13 9:29pm

Alastair Cook: Lacking 'match hardness'

Alastair Cook put England's opening ODI defeat in New Zealand down to a gutsy contribution from Martin Guptill.

Guptill retired hurt after injuring a hamstring as the home side chased England's 258, but with the game in the balance he re-emerged at seventh wicket down to share 41 with Brendon McCullum.

That was enough to see New Zealand home by three wickets with seven balls to spare, Guptill finishing on 27 and McCullum on 69.

Cook said: "When you get seven wickets, the normal next man in is a bowler. But it was an opening batter who hits it as well as that, and he played very well."

McCullum's innings also caught the eye, and Cook said: "He's obviously a very dangerous player. Whether he bats at the top of the order or coming in there at six, he's very hard to bowl to. The trick is to try to get him out early.

"Both sides kind of got themselves in position to win, and someone had to stand up and grab it by the scruff of the neck - and those two did it for New Zealand."

Cook was one of several senior players back after a mid-winter break and, although Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott scored fifties, the captain saw signs of ring-rust.

He said: "You always are a little bit rusty when you haven't had a practice match or a training session as a side. But it was more match hardness, which we were missing a little bit."