In the first of a five-part series, Martin Guptill reveals the pressures of being an opening batsman, what it's like to be dropped from a side and the turning point of his international career.

Martin Guptill made New Zealand cricketing history on Wednesday when he scored 180 not out in a match-winning knock against South Africa.

It was the third time in his career he's reached 180 in a one-day international and he now holds the top three spots in the list of highest individual scores by New Zealanders in ODIs.

Martin Guptill during his 180* innings. Photo / photosport.co.nz
Martin Guptill during his 180* innings. Photo / photosport.co.nz

His 237 not out against West Indies at the Cricket World Cup in 2015 is the highest-ever score in a World Cup match and the second highest individual score in ODI cricket history.

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In an exclusive interview with NZME, the opener opens up about being a professional cricketer.

On being an opening batsman

A lot of people say opening batsmen are a different sort of a breed and you've got to be mental to do that sort of thing, so there are a lot on inner-demons you have to deal with. The more cricket you play, the older you get, the more wiser you get, you're able to deal with them easier.

A lot of it is mental. You've got to have the ability to back yourself every time you go out to the crease and every time you're playing. It only takes one ball and one lapse of concentration and that's it, your day is over. Bowlers bowl a bad ball first ball of the over and they have five more balls to get it right.

When doubts begin to creep in

You have doubts quite often in cricket, unfortunately. There's been a few tournaments where I've been well below par in how I want to be playing the game. You always have doubts and whether '\"am I good enough to be here". You try to talk to guys around you in the team and just try to find a way to get through that. Just remember what you can do and how you do it and why you play the game. At the end of the day it's because you love it.

How it all started

I grew up watching cricket and you just want to be out playing. For me it started in the backyard. I started playing cricket with kids three years older than me, I was playing in my brother's team. I was always trying to foot it with the bigger kids and wanting to be just as good as them.

The biggest influence of his career

I think the biggest changed of my career happened in the last couple of years when I started working with Martin Crowe. He was obviously a great of our game and he knew his stuff about batting. He helped me immensely, not only with the technical part of my game but also the mental side of it. He taught me to let go of a lot of things that were holding me back. I can't thank him enough for the time that we had together.

The 2015 Cricket World Cup

Words can't describe it. Six weeks of just pure enjoyment. Everyone in the team was enjoying their cricket and just loving it. It was amazing. In airports going to the next venue people would come up to us and say "good luck", "Good on you, guys", that sort of thing. It really gave us the extra motivation to go out and play as well as we did. You talk to a lot of guys in the squad and many would say that the 2015 World Cup would be one of the highs of their career.

What it's like to be dropped

I've been dropped a couple of times from the test team and it's always been a bit of a kick in the teeth. But it just motivates you to want to get straight back in there and start scoring runs and contributing.

You can go through some lows in cricket. You'll have more lows - more bad days than good in the game unfortunately. You've just got to try to find the love of it in the game and come back stronger the next day you're out there.