Andrew Alderson

Andrew Alderson is a sport writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Cricket: Peter Fulton - The unlikely hero

Andrew Alderson pays tribute to a stoic Cantabrian who has made Auckland his personal playground.

Peter Fulton edged towards cult-hero status when he joined one of the shortest honour rolls in New Zealand test cricket yesterday at Eden Park.

With the casual blast of a straight six off Stuart Broad, the 34-year-old Cantabrian became the fourth New Zealand batsman to score centuries in both innings of a test.

While it might have seemed unlikely at the series start, Fulton is shaping as a folk hero: quiet, undemonstrative, renowned as a team man and, crucially, has a cracking nickname in "Two-metre Peter"(even if he's at least 2cm shorter).

His rejuvenation and that of the national side have been intertwined.

To add to the growing legend, Fulton was a former fullback (no, not a lock) for Canterbury Country who was sound enough with his place kicks and ability under the high ball to be asked to attend a Crusaders wider training squad. Fulton chose to persevere with cricket. To paint the complete picture, he's getting married to Libby Retallick, sister of Blues rugby player Culum, on April 6.

Fulton's popularity over the past four days has soared. Even John Key has seen there are votes to be won from him. Yesterday the Prime Minister tweeted: "Great work Peter Fulton. Two centuries in the same test. We can do this Black Caps."

More importantly, respect for Fulton is increasing in the team. He is a frontrunner to take over the captaincy from Brendon McCullum if injury strikes.

Fulton's form has been unaffected in the role with Canterbury. He has a reputation for instilling confidence in those around him and was part of the leadership in South Africa until he returned home with a knee injury.

Now 34, he might have thought his glory days were gone, but Fulton's 2012-13 record indicates otherwise. He has moved into second behind Martin Crowe for runs (1249 at 59.48) scored in a New Zealand first-class season. His test average has rocketed from 20.93 before this series to 33.05 after 13.

Until yesterday, Fulton was most famous as holder of New Zealand's highest maiden first-class century, 301 not out, against Auckland in 2002-03.

That's about to change.

- NZ Herald

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