“Guppy, congratulations. You are going to make your debut for New Zealand this weekend at Eden Park.”
Since getting that first call in 2009 to tell me I would be representing New Zealand for the first time, a lot has changed. Once I got through the initial shock, I focused on knuckling down and going through the same processes which had got me into this position in the first place. I figured that was my best chance of succeeding at the higher level. Now, eight years later, I still love the game and representing New Zealand, as much as ever.
One of the things I most love about cricket, is the inability to ‘conquer the game’; there is always something to work on and always areas of your game you can get better at. Since I started playing this great game, I had a good understanding of this. One area I didn’t understand quite so well was nutrition. At 22 and about to be New Zealand’s newest debutant, I had a very limited diet and never even ate breakfast. As a young lad, I was incredibly fussy when it came to food and I had a very simple pallet. Sealords’ Crumbed Fish Fillets, mashed potatoes, peas and corn. Repeat. Did I have any interest in broadening my horizons? Absolutely not.
But that was then, and this is now.
I began to comprehend how important nutrition is to achieving peak performance from your body. Now, at 30, I understand and appreciate the fact that I am one of the lucky few who gets to do what they love every single day, and I’m prepared to do whatever needs to be done to keep on living this dream.
I hear of athletes in other sports who can be almost superstitious when it comes to food, on game day they will always have the same meal. That can be a lot harder as a cricketer, for example it’s not always easy to get your favourite New Zealand breakfast in India, so you have to learn to adjust, listen to your body and make the best of the situations you’re put in.
There are always exceptions to this, like the quick stop to McDonald’s for a Big Mac on the way home from my own wedding reception, or the bowl of chocolate ice-cream for breakfast the morning after I finished the 2015 World Cup as the tournament’s highest run scorer, but I’ve learnt to pick my moments to indulge!
When I was younger I felt I could eat anything I wanted and it wouldn’t make a difference, nowadays I am much more meticulous about my preparation. I fully understand and appreciate the impact nutrition has on my performance. Working with a nutritionist and understanding what my body needs to consistently perform at it’s peak has been invaluable.
Like I said, I am living my dream, and if there’s anything I can do to make that dream last even one day longer, you won’t have to tell me twice.
MARTIN GUPTILL – CONTRIBUTOR