Phumelela Media Executive Ken Rutherford declared himself a ‘very chuffed and proud Dad’, after his son Hamish had scored 171 for New Zealand in front of his home crowd earlier today. In so doing, the young man set the record for the highest score by any opener on debut against England.
It is quite amazing to think that just over a year ago the 23 year old opening batsman was spending his days working in a coffee shop, unsure of when his next first class game would be.
Today he stormed off University Oval, having achieved the second highest score by a New Zealander on Test debut, furious he had been dismissed for 171 and not been able to add to his side’s imposing first innings lead over England.
As it was, New Zealand finished the rain-shortened third day of the first Test with a 235-run lead over the tourists after posting 402 for 7.
Rutherford produced a 217-ball innings that was bristling with aggression, exemplified by 22 boundaries and three sixes.
While his runs came from all around the ground, his highlight reel was dominated with shots through the offside, with 71 of his runs coming from backward point through to extra cover.
One shot in particular, an exquisitely timed drive off Steve Finn rocketed to the extra-cover boundary to bring up his century.
The 23-year-old did not go over the top in his celebrations, jogging down the pitch with his arms in the air to accept the congratulations of team-mate Kane Williamson as the crowd rose to their feet.
It was an opening partnership gamble that paid off for the Kiwi selectors. The left-handed Rutherford was making his debut, while the tall Peter Fulton was playing his first test since 2009.
The pair lay to rest any concerns with a 158-run opening partnership on a good batting wicket before Fulton was dismissed for 55.
Rutherford hit the only six of the day as he carted spinner Monty Panesar high over long-on, and in a bizarre twist hit a hapless fan sitting on the grass banks, on the head.
Proud father Ken Rutherford has just returned from his homeland after watching the T20s.
“I’m obviously very proud of his achievement and rapt for him personally. Hamish hasn’t been one of those Academy kids coming through the ranks with it all laid on. He has had to work hard for it – and I think that has helped him a lot. Goodness, a year ago he was pouring coffee in a Dunedin cafe and couldn’t make the Otago team!” he said.
The Phumelela man said that the innings was a great springboard for his son’s career and added modestly that time would tell whether he makes the most of it.
Rutherford himself a former New Zealand cricketer, played for the national side for ten years and was captain for a period. An opening batsman, he scored 35 first-class centuries
Arguably, Rutherford’s greatest success came in One Day Internationals where he won ten matches as captain and made his highest international score, with 108 in a losing cause against India. He was a member of the New Zealand side which reached the semi finals of the 1992 World Cup, their equal best performance in the tournament’s history.
Upon being dropped from the New Zealand team in 1995, Rutherford moved to South Africa, where he played first-class cricket for five seasons, first for Transvaal and then for Gauteng (which replaced Transvaal in 1994), before finally retiring, scoring a duck in his very last game. After retirement from the playing side of the game, he coached the Irish national cricket team.
Rutherford scored a highest first-class score of 317, scored playing for a New Zealand touring side against a D.B.Close XI at Scarborough in 1986, which achieved several records for New Zealand cricket.
Cricket obviously runs in the Rutherford family blood, with Ken’s elder brother Ian also having played first-class cricket at a provincial level for Otago Volts.