Cricket: Batsmen facing off for test spot

Hamish Rutherford training at the University Oval in January. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Hamish Rutherford training at the University Oval in January. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
The last thing you want as an opening batsman is to feel a little edge, err, 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 his 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 twenty/20 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.

''I suppose you could look at it that way,'' Latham responded when asked if the game felt like a final audition.

''Hopefully, we're not thinking about those sorts of things. If we can go out there and everyone does their own job, hopefully, we can put some numbers on the board and get some results.

''It is in the back of the mind that if you score a few runs I could be in the test match, but I'm not really looking at it from that point of view.''

While there are spots up for grabs in the Black Caps test XI, England's side looks 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 its side for the warm-up game today and that may indicate which way the selectors are leaning.

Either way, England 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's James Neesham and Northern Districts' Corey Anderson have been given the opportunity to press their claims and one of them might not be too far away from a test debut.

 

 


First-class head-to-heads

 

Hamish Rutherford

Career: 1446 runs at 42.52

Plunket Shield 2012-13: 609 runs at 40.60

v

Tom Latham

Career: 1345 runs at 34.48

Plunket Shield 2012-13: 430 runs at 33.07

 

Neil Wagner

Career: 276 wickets at 24.70

Plunket Shield 2012-13: 30 wickets at 25.43

V

Mark Gillespie

Career: 321 wickets at 26.57

Plunket Shield 2012-13: 45 wickets at 31.37v

 

 


New Zealand XI
To play England

 

BJ Watling, Corey Anderson, Neil Broom, Dean Brownlie, Carl Cachopa, Mark Gillespie, Tom Latham (captain), James Neesham, Hamish Rutherford, Ish Sodhi, Neil Wagner.


 

 

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 his 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 twenty/20 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.

''I suppose you could look at it that way,'' Latham responded when asked if the game felt like a final audition.

''Hopefully, we're not thinking about those sorts of things. If we can go out there and everyone does their own job, hopefully, we can put some numbers on the board and get some results.

''It is in the back of the mind that if you score a few runs I could be in the test match, but I'm not really looking at it from that point of view.''

While there are spots up for grabs in the Black Caps test XI, England's side looks 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 its side for the warm-up game today and that may indicate which way the selectors are leaning.

Either way, England 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's James Neesham and Northern Districts' Corey Anderson have been given the opportunity to press their claims and one of them might not be too far away from a test debut.

 

 


First-class head-to-heads

 

Hamish Rutherford

Career: 1345 runs at 34.48

Plunket Shield 2012-13: 430 runs at 33.07

v

Tom Latham

Career: 1446 runs at 42.52

Plunket Shield 2012-13: 609 runs at 40.60

 

Neil Wagner

Career: 276 wickets at 24.70

Plunket Shield 2012-13: 30 wickets at 25.43

V

Mark Gillespie

Career: 321 wickets at 26.57

Plunket Shield 2012-13: 45 wickets at 31.37v

 

 


New Zealand XI
To play England

 

BJ Watling, Corey Anderson, Neil Broom, Dean Brownlie, Carl Cachopa, Mark Gillespie, Tom Latham (captain), James Neesham, Hamish Rutherford, Ish Sodhi, Neil Wagner.


 

Pretty sure the stats have been swapped

Pretty sure the stats for Rutherford and Latham have been swapped here...

Editor- Well spotted. The story has now been corrected