Cricket: Rutherford's ball watching

By David Leggat

Left-hander with world of possibilities stretched before him looks no further than next delivery.

Hamish Rutherford's cricket world is suddenly loaded with possibilities. When the season began, the Otago left-hander was among a clutch of batsmen who sat squarely in the promising category.

But Rutherford's strong T20 form earned him a call into the New Zealand XI against England in Whangarei, then the national side for that leg of the ANZ international series; and now, courtesy of Martin Guptill's hamstring strain, he's in for the final two ODIs, starting at Napier's McLean Park today.

And he is also in the New Zealand XI to play a four-dayer against the tourists in Queenstown next week.

At this rate, making the first-test squad for his home ground in Dunedin next month should be a doddle.

However, today is what matters, and Eden Park on Saturday. Beyond that, forget it. There is no chance of his eyes being averted off the present.

"I take it day by day, game by game, ball by ball, and try to keep it as simple as that," he said yesterday.

"If you start worrying about all those things you forget the main thing, which is to watch the ball."

Rutherford was surprised to get the call for the ODI squad. He was due to be in Wellington today as Otago make their final push to the Plunket Shield title.

His raised eyebrows may also have come from an average of only 14.09 in 11 50-over innings over the last four seasons.

However, there's a feeling he's the coming man out of a pack of batsmen looking to make the step up.

Rutherford has had favourable feedback of his performances in the T20s. He made it clear there would be a dialling back of the attacking strokes which underpin T20 batting, if not a complete change of style.

"You get a lot more time in the 50-over game. If I can be there 30 or 40 overs, hopefully I'll be on a few runs. The approach is similar, but probably not as aggressive."

New Zealand had a couple of selection options after the three-wicket win in Hamilton on Sunday night.

Trent Boult was the obvious like-for-like change when Mitchell McClenaghan was ruled out by a side strain. However, with Tim Southee recalled, the issue becomes more clouded.

If captain Brendon McCullum and coach Mike Hesson want both ND men in, allrounders Andrew Ellis and Grant Elliott become vulnerable.

Then again, both did decent work at Hamilton. Decisions, decisions.

With its short, square boundaries, and the likelihood of a traditional McLean Park belter, this is no ground to be a spinner, unless he's super canny. England may stick with the same XI.

Both sides have had one win on this ground, with the other two clashes, in 1997 and 2008, tied.

•McClenaghan has been ruled out for up to six weeks after scans revealed a small tear in his side. That's him in the frame for the tour to England in May. Guptill's hamstring was assessed yesterday but there was no update on the injury late last night.

NZ v England 2nd ODI

McLean Park, Napier,
2pm today, live SS1, Prime

New Zealand: (from) Brendon McCullum (c), BJ Watling, Hamish Rutherford, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Grant Elliott, James Franklin, Colin Munro, Andrew Ellis, Nathan McCullum, Kyle Mills, Tim Southee, Trent Boult.

England: (from) Alastair Cook (c), Ian Bell, Jonathan Trott, Eoin Morgan, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Graeme Swann, Samit Patel, Stuart Broad, Chris Woakes, James Anderson, Steven Finn, James Tredwell, James Harris.

- NZ Herald

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