New Zealand’s Hamish Rutherford played down his achievement in posting the seventh highest debut in Test history yesterday, saying he was just doing his job for the Black Caps.
The 23-year-old scored 171 against England in the opening Test at his home ground in Dunedin to put the unfancied New Zealanders in a commanding position against the second-ranked team in Test cricket.
The Black Caps were 402 for seven when rain halted play late in the day, with Brendon McCullum unbeaten on 44 and Bruce Martin 17 not out. With the entire first day washed out, yesterday’s interruption cost another 32 overs, leaving the Black Caps racing against time to use their advantage to rack up a rare win over England. The visitors were bowled out for 167 on Thursday.
“It won’t sink in until I get home and have a wee lie down,” Rutherford said. “There was a lot of relief, I suppose. Obviously it’s very special to do it here in front of my home fans and family and friends.”
Rutherford, the son of former Black Caps captain Ken, said he deliberately kept his celebrations muted after becoming only the ninth New Zealander to score a century on debut, briefly raising his bat to mark the milestone.
“You’re picked to do a job and your job is to score runs, so at the end of the day that’s what you’re picked to do,” he said, admitting he was still kicking himself after losing his wicket just after lunch. Rutherford conceded he might imbibe in a “cheeky” glass of milk after his stunning effort but put his achievement down to sound advice from his mentor, former Black Cap Craig Cumming, and batting on his home ground.
His composed innings contrasted with his father’s first Test in 1985, when Rutherford senior made a pair against the West Indies in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad. His father, who was only 19 at the time and facing the mighty West Indies pace attack in their heyday on home turf, went on to play 56 Tests and captain New Zealand from 1992-95.
The approach saw Rutherford score 22 fours and three sixes during 340 minutes at the crease.
Highest scores on Test debut
. 287: Reginald Erskine Foster (England) vs Australia, Sydney, 1903
. 222*: Jacques Rudolph (South Africa) vs Bangladesh, Chittagong, 2003
. 214: Lawrence Rowe (West Indies) vs New Zealand, Kingston, 1972
. 214: Matthew Sinclair (New Zealand) vs West Indies, Wellington, 1999
. 201*: Brendon Kuruppu (Sri Lanka) vs New Zealand, Colombo, 1987
. 176: George Headley (West Indies) vs England, Bridgetown, 1930