Rutherford century hurts England

Opening batsman Hamish Rutherford struck a big century on debut, as New Zealand assumed command – thanks largely to a hefty 235-run lead – on day three of the first Test against England at the University Oval in Dunedin on Friday.

Opening batsman Hamish Rutherford struck a big century on debut, as New Zealand assumed command – thanks largely to a hefty 235-run lead – on day three of the first Test at the University Oval in Dunedin on Friday.

The hosts raced past England's paltry first-innings 167 all out on the way to 402 for seven before more bad weather wiped out most of the final session in this rain-shortened match.

James Anderson (four for 108) moved ever closer to the 300 club among his country's all-time leading Test wicket-takers, as the tourists tried to limit a lead which had nonetheless long put New Zealand in control.

It barely amounted to even the hint of a significant fightback, however, and did not change the fact England will have to bat for almost all the last two days here to stay level in the series after the first Test of three.

Rutherford (171) notably outdid his father Ken, who made a pair on debut and three more ducks among nine single-figure scores in his first 10 innings at the highest level.

By contrast, the son of a famous father began his Test career by breaking a record which had endured throughout international cricket history.

Australian Charles Bannerman was the holder of the previous highest ever score, of 165, in a debut innings against England – in the very first Test match of all, at Melbourne in 1877.

Rutherford today reached three-figures in memorable style on his home ground with a crunching cover-drive off Steven Finn for his 15th four.

For good measure, the left-handed opener greeted Anderson's second spell of another chastening day for the tourists with a sequence of 4-4-2-4 from the first four balls.

Far from satisfied yet, he then passed 150 by hitting Monty Panesar for the first of two towering sixes high over long-off in the same over.

England had twice dropped Rutherford yesterday, on 52 and 64; but otherwise, he barely put a foot wrong in an innings full of powerful strokes through the off-side especially and down the ground.

Shortly before he went to his century, England narrowly avoided the ignominy of seeing their total surpassed without managing to take a single wicket in reply.
Peter Fulton (55), batting at an anchor tempo while Rutherford continued to dominate, posted just his second Test 50 from 153 balls.

The opening stand was finally broken, though, on 158 as Fulton appeared to be undone more than anything by a lack of pace when he got an inside-edge for a low catch behind by Matt Prior off Anderson.

Rutherford was unperturbed and kept the boundaries coming in a partnership of 91 with Kane Williamson until the number four was bowled, trying to cut a Panesar arm ball.

It was not until Anderson took the second new ball in early afternoon that he immediately ended Rutherford's innings, caught at midwicket by substitute fielder Chris Woakes after appearing to play too early.

By then the New Zealander was seventh in the all-time list of highest runscorers on Test debut.

His departure was followed by three more for the addition of only 16 runs, birthday boy Ross Taylor caught at second slip off Anderson and Dean Brownlie edging him on in defence before BJ Watling left alone his first ball from Stuart Broad and was bowled off-stump.

As the weather began to close in again, though, Brendon McCullum and Tim Southee went on the attack in a stand of 44 in six overs to take their team more than 200 runs in front.

Southee tried one big hit too many at Broad, and was bowled, but McCullum was still in situ with Bruce Martin when rain and bad light brought an early close.
The Kiwi captain was therefore in prime position to judge when the lead, already a mammoth 235, would be sufficient to apply maximum pressure to tourists who have been outplayed throughout so far.

Kevin Pietersen was off the field for much of the afternoon session, because of a sore right knee, but appeared to be moving without major discomfort once he returned.