Cricket: Test spot at stake for Rutherford, Latham

By Adrian Seconi

Otago left-hander Hamish Rutherford has the inside running. Photo / Getty Images
Otago left-hander Hamish Rutherford has the inside running. Photo / Getty Images

The last thing you want as an opening batsman is to feel a little edgy.

But that is exactly the situation Tom Latham and Hamish Rutherford find themselves in today.

The pair will open the batting for the New Zealand XI in a four-day warm-up match against England at the Queenstown Events Centre.

It is a nervy time going out to face fast bowlers when they are fresh. But for Latham and Rutherford there is even more at stake than usual.

Both have been named in the Black Caps squad for the first test against England. The catch is one of them will watch the game from the sideline while the other will make their test debut.

How they perform in the next four days will help Black Caps coach Mike Hesson make up his mind.

Arguably, Otago left-hander Rutherford has the inside running. He played in all three T20 games against England and the last two one-dayers.

He has also amassed a very useful record at first-class level, particularly in the last few years.

But 20-year-old Latham is player who is highly rated. When Wellington wicketkeeper-batsman Luke Ronchi pulled out of the warm-up match with a muscle strain, Latham was promoted to captain and is clearly thought of as a young man with a bright future.

The game also shapes as a trial for Otago's Neil Wagner and Wellington's Mark Gillespie. The Black Caps will add a pace bowler to their squad for the first test and that spot will go to either Wagner or Gillespie.

' While there are spots up for grabs in the Black Caps test XI, England look fairly settled.

The only real decision to make is where to bat Joe Root.

He may replace Nick Compton at the top of the order with Jonny Bairstow batting at No 6. Or England may opt to stick with Compton and ask Root to come in at No 6.

England will name their side today. They will have a powerful top order featuring Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell.

Strike bowlers James Anderson and Steven Finn may get a rest with Graham Onions and Chris Woakes keen for an opportunity.

Depending on how the first test unfolds, there could be another couple of spots up for grabs in the Black Caps. New Zealand is looking for an all-rounder to strengthen the balance of the side.

Doug Bracewell has not developed with the bat as hoped and James Franklin has not measured up at test level.

- Otago Daily Times

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