Rutherford thwarts England

England bowler James Anderson appeals for lbw. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/Reuters

England bowler James Anderson appeals for lbw. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/Reuters

Fri, Mar 8, 2013, 00:00

Cricket:James Anderson had to channel his frustrations today as Hamish Rutherford showed England how to bat on a flat pitch at the University Oval.

England’s pace spearhead finally dismissed Rutherford, at his first attempt with the second new ball, but not before New Zealand’s debutant opener had piled up a record 171 on day three of the first Test.

The best score against England by any batsman in his first Test innings put the tourists’ hapless 167 all out into cruel but fair context as the Kiwis reached 402 for seven by stumps.

Anderson’s temper was frayed several times on his way to hard-earned figures of four for 108 — no surprise really, after he had watched England’s batsmen squander their wickets 24 hours earlier. He and his fellow frontline seamer Steven Finn shared the highest stand of England’s faulty innings, in fact, at numbers nine and 10.

Their hosts then replied with an opening stand of 158 between Rutherford and Peter Fulton to lay the foundation for a lead which stood at 235 with two days remaining. “I batted on it and thought it was a pretty good deck,” said Anderson. “For me to get 20, it must be fairly flat. Most Test pitches are, and we know that. But we can’t dwell too much on our first innings; we’ve got to think about batting much better in the second innings.”

England know they will get their turn to do that soon enough, weather permitting in a match already badly-affected by rain after a washout on day one. They can be marginally encouraged by an improved performance with the ball, in Anderson’s estimation, after New Zealand had raced to 131 for none yesterday.

“It was better...still not quite there, but I thought we bowled much better than we did yesterday, asked a lot more questions of them,” he said. “We bowled really well with the second new ball, and I thought Broady (Stuart Broad) bowled well all the way through and was unlucky not to pick up more wickets.”

The key, after such a fragile showing with the bat, was for England’s bowlers to keep their discipline. “We tried to focus on staying patient, because it can be difficult as a bowling group when you’re behind the eight ball, as we are in this game,” Anderson said.

Whether England can also pack up their troubles will depend on their resilience over the next two days. Anderson acknowledges the best they can surely hope for is a draw. “I guess so,” he said. “Without looking too far ahead, we’ve just got to make sure we bat much better in that second innings. We’ve got to make sure guys get in on this pitch.”

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