Peter Fulton off heap and scrapping
As Canterbury's Peter Fulton strode off the University Oval last night, unbeaten on 46, ex-Black Caps seemingly on the international scrapheap collectively smiled.
Though two New Zealand players were on debut in the first test against England in Dunedin, Fulton was arguably the player under the most pressure to perform yesterday and, alongside the impressive Hamish Rutherford, unbeaten on 77, Fulton made a point.
More than three years after he last played test cricket, the Canterbury skipper presented exhibit A of why he's not a stopgap measure while Martin Guptill is injured, but a genuine contender to continue to open the innings.
His 46 is just a start, he'll know that, but he saw off the new ball, blunted a dangerous attack, kept out the good ones and put away the bad ones.
Had he failed, the naysayers would have been out in force. Some probably had their speed dial ready to call sports talkback and whinge.
Credit needs to be given to the New Zealand selectors for giving him another chance.
He's recently scored a bucketload of domestic runs and while the bowling isn't of the same standard, it's the best gauge the selectors have.
Fulton has been one of the summer's form players and showed yesterday he has what it takes to play test cricket.
He was chanceless against the No 2 team in the world and on what was effectively day one of the test after Wednesday was a washout, English captain Alastair Cook was forced to try not one, but two, part-time bowlers to remove Fulton and Rutherford.
After rolling England for 167, if the home side had lost quick wickets it would have given the tourists some much-needed momentum.
But Fulton and Rutherford's 42 overs of stubbornness pumped up the Kiwis' confidence.
"Confidence grows within the group, within the unit, watching something like that," Neil Wagner said of the openers' vigil.
"The two batters tonight, the partnership, it makes the guys settle down a little bit of nerves if there is any and just focus on what they need to do."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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