Rutherford tests England

The uncapped Hamish Rutherford offered the national selectors food for thought on day two of the New Zealand XI's tour fixture against England in Queenstown on Thursday.

The uncapped Hamish Rutherford offered the national selectors food for thought on day two of the New Zealand XI's tour fixture against England in Queenstown on Thursday.

Rutherford struck 13 boundaries and a six en route to 90, which was later complemented by the right-handed Dean Brownlie, as the hosts reached 224 for six in reply to the visitors' 426 all out.

England were short of evidence as to the identity of their third Test match seamer. Right-armer Stuart Broad was more threatening than the 30-year-old Graham Onions and the uncapped Chris Woakes, but not significantly more successful.

The left-handed Rutherford, meanwhile, cemented his claims to a Test debut next week, when he is likely to partner the tall Peter Fulton.

After Ian Bell (158) was finally last out for England, they drew a blank in an hour's bowling up to lunch – and although Graeme Swann struck immediately afterwards, there was to be no sudden surge of further progress.

Instead, Rutherford stayed until well into the evening session – hitting 13 fours and a six from 149 balls – and then Brownlie, with whom he shared a fourth-wicket stand of 81, continued England's frustrations.

Tom Latham and Rutherford, both left-handed sons of former New Zealand batsmen, are in the reckoning for a maiden Test of their own.

Rutherford was already the front-runner to get the nod next week, and all the more so after his opening partner was the one to go as their stand of 56 was broken when Swann had him moving across his stumps and lbw as he pushed to leg.

Carl Cachopa then began with intent, up the wicket to the fourth ball he faced and hitting a six high over long-on off Swann.

That was the number three's only scoring shot, though, before Broad found some extra bounce and had him fencing low to second slip – where Swann took a neat catch.

It was Broad's only first-class wicket of the winter to date, following his struggles with form and injury in India in late December. Neil Broom also started confidently but was run out by a direct hit from Kevin Pietersen at point after being called through for a single by Rutherford.

By then, the opener had already completed his 50, prefaced a ball earlier with his only six, again off Swann over long-on. He was joined by Test regular Brownlie as England's labours extended under near cloudless skies.

The new ball especially had swung and occasionally gone off the seam for the hosts on Wednesday. On Thursday, however, batting conditions appeared ever more straightforward.

Broad switched tactics after tea to try to discomfort Rutherford with some short balls, to little effect.

Instead, it was Woakes who finally did the trick when a lack of decisive foot movement perhaps undid Rutherford who was bowled by a delivery which kept a little low.

Brownlie was not for shifting, though, on his way to and beyond a convincing 112-ball half-century – until he was caught behind down the leg-side in the penultimate over of the day off Jonathan Trott.

Then when Swann doubled up with Jimmy Neesham lbw with the final ball of the day, England's position was more favourable than had long seemed likely.

England had added another 69 for their last three wickets this morning, Bell finishing with 23 fours from 233 balls and Broad and Swann also bagging some handy runs.

For their opponents, Neesham and Neil Wagner took four wickets each – and substitute fielder Michael Rae had three catches, the last one when Bell mistimed an attempted hit over the top and was well-held at deep mid-off.

He had spoken previously of the importance of the new ball. But by lunch it had come and gone with no breakthrough, and England's long patience test was underway.