Hamish Rutherford follows father to crease
It goes without saying that Hamish Rutherford hopes for more success on his international cricket debut than his father, Ken, had.
Thrown to the sharks at 19 years and 154 days old, "Ruds" made a pair in his test debut against the West Indies at Port of Spain in 1985.
Now it is Hamish's turn. The 23-year-old left-hander will pad up against England in three Twenty20s, starting in Auckland next Saturday.
Young Rutherford seems unfazed by his elevation. He made 162 for Otago against Northern Districts in Queenstown yesterday and was happy to be interviewed during the game's lunch interval.
He doesn't waste words or praise people for the sake of it.
He gets his shot because of his compelling T20 form for Otago, and because Jesse Ryder is unavailable and Rob Nicol hasn't cut the mustard. "I hadn't put too much thought into selection," Rutherford said. "Twenty20 is a way in, people say. You want to get a chance to play at the top level, I don't care what format. It's pretty big for me, it's pretty special."
Rutherford's batting approach is more in the mould of an Australian. If the ball is in his scoring zones, he attacks regardless of the situation and the ball generally stays hit.
He hasn't seen his father daily since he was a 5-year-old but their relationship is strong.
Asked about his father's influence, he said: "I've only just started talking to him about cricket recently actually.
"It's always been the father-you-don't-listen-to-type [cricket] relationship. I'm starting to pay attention now. Obviously he has been away, so he hasn't had a lot to do with my technique but he has helped me a bit in terms of getting my bat up earlier."
Ken Rutherford is based in South Africa, where he works as a sports bookmaker, having previously had identical roles in Wellington and Singapore.
Speaking from Johannesburg last night, Rutherford said he was delighted a planned trip home this month would coincide with his son's international debut.
"I'm pleased they've picked him while he is hitting the ball well."
Reminded of his debut experience, Rutherford acknowledged they were poles apart.
"It will still be intimidating," he said. "But if he plays all three games, we'll get an idea about him. He's always had the natural ability.
"I've always thought he could play a bit but the world is full of players who can play a bit, so it is a question of whether he can take it to the next stage."
Rutherford is proud of the hard work Hamish has put in, noting that this time last year he was playing for Otago B.
He doesn't profess to have had much input into the technical side of his son's game but follows his career as any proud father would.
"We text each other on a daily basis," Rutherford said. "Our relationship is pretty strong to be fair. We have been kept good by the cricket."
The record book suggests the Rutherfords will become the fifth father-and-son combination to play internationally for New Zealand at limited-overs level after Chris and Lance Cairns, Brendon and Doug Bracewell, Rod and Tom Latham and Rodney and Aaron Redmond.
The Dominion Post