All Right Kiwis, Hand On Heart: Fulton/Rutherford - Do You Believe?
I'm interested to hear what everyone thinks of the first opening partnership to score some damn runs in a series since half of us were born.
Needless to say, both Fulton and Rutherford have exceeded my wildest expectations. You guys might remember I picked Fulton to be dropped by Eden Park in the sweep stake before the first test and I wasn't joking. His technique going into Dunedin was not one to inspire any confidence. He was stepping across with the front foot rather than forward and his back foot was going no where. On top of that, he was defending balls several kilometres outside off stump and his backfoot drives held zero balance.
Amazingly, by Auckland he had massively improved his skill at leaving the ball. I don't think the leaving weakness will ever truly go away because of the positions his footwork put him in but he has improved it. It's also far too late to remedy his technique much: he is 34 years old.
But he scored the runs, and in contrasting fashion in each innings. He trolled the English into bowling on his pads and then in the second innings he went into the middle with no fear and belted them around the park on both sides of the wicket amidst a top order collapse. Humble pie was served for dinner country wide.
Rutherford is a guy who has a loose back foot defense due to his tendency to have a go at anything resembling width. His front foot play and his back foot attack to anything wide is good, but he likes a flirt at balls he shouldn't and England figured this out. But still, he scored a debut hundred and got starts in most of his other innings.
So do you guys think they can form a test standard partnership? I think they can both average 30 - 35 each, and be pretty severe on flat pitches like those served up in this series but fade when the pitch has demons. However I wouldn't be surprised if one of them was dropped after four single digit scores in England. I'm still skeptical.
Is this a false dawn or is the universe being kind to us for once?