Notes from the slip, January 19th

Hamish Rutherford. PHOTO: GERARD O'BRIEN
Hamish Rutherford. PHOTO: GERARD O'BRIEN
Retirements are hard. Hamish Rutherford seemed to be handling his well. 
The veteran Otago left-hander has decided to call time after 15 years at the top. 
Notes From Slip sat down with him for a chat in the same spot where we had a chat just before he made his debut in November 2008. 
Back then, he was Ken Rutherford’s son — now he is very much his own man.
But despite carving out an impressive domestic career for the province, he seemed a little surprised about the fuss.
His partner, Sophie Peat, was more emotional than he was, he said. But he will miss it. Cricket has been a huge part of his life. 
The 34-year-old has scored more than 16,000 runs across all three formats during a career that stretched over three different decades. 
And like the trees behind him on that park bench where we sat, he has matured and developed.
He does not play the same game as when he first emerged. He had to develop. Initially, his game was quite limited. 
My favourite Hamish Rutherford innings was his double ton at the University Oval in 2012.
He became the third member of his family to score a double hundred for Otago, joining uncle Ian and father Ken.
But what I remember the most about it is he brought up the milestone when he tucked a delivery off his hip down to fine leg. It was the first runs he had scored behind square on the leg side that entire marathon innings.
He pretty much had two shots — the cut and the drive — but he had mastered them. The pull and the hook shots came later. 
He is a more rounded player today than the brash young lad who swatted 171 on international debut at the University Oval in 2013. What an innings that was.
Sadly, he could not recapture that form and drifted out of the national side.
He would have loved another shot later in his career, but that opportunity eluded him.
And it is a little sad his retirement was not completely on his own terms. 
The Volts had made it clear to him he was unlikely to be selected in the remaining list A and first-class games this season.
Hard to figure that out, really. He still offers a lot as a batter and his tactical awareness will be sorely missed.
But while he would have pushed on to the end of the season, his body is letting him down. He needs "two new hips" as he puts it, and he was struggling for motivation.
He has nothing left to prove by trying to battle his way back into the side. 
It was time to let go and reflect on a career which must see him ranked among the great Otago players.
That will make retirement a little easier.