Peter Fulton stands tall in unsexy self-denial

17:25, Mar 27 2013
Third test: NZ v England
New Zealand's Peter Fulton on day one of the third cricket test against England.
Third test: NZ v England
New Zealand's Hamish Rutherford avoids a ball in the face.
Third test: NZ v England
New Zealand's Hamish Rutherford plays a ball against England.
Third test: NZ v England
Reece Walters, age 14, hands New Zealand's captain Brendon McCullum the coin for the toss.
English players celebrate taking Hamish Rutherford's wicket.
English players celebrate taking Hamish Rutherford's wicket.
Peter Fulton
Peter Fulton makes a run past England's James Anderson.
Third test: NZ v England
England's Monty Panesar bowls on day one of the third cricket test.
Peter Fulton
Peter Fulton is congratulated by Kane Williamson on scoring a century.
Third test: NZ v England
Ross Taylor slips one towards the boundary during his short innings on day two.
Third test: NZ v England
England celebrate the wicket of Kane Williamson, out for 91.
Third test: NZ v England
Brendon McCullum plays a shot on day two of the third and final test.
Tim Southee
Tim Southee plays a shot against England on day two of the third test.
NZ vs England, 3rd test
England captain Alastair Cook congratulates Steven Finn on the wicket of Tim Southee.
Black Caps
New Zealand's Trent Boult appeals lbw for England's Jonathan Trott.
Third test: New Zealand vs England
New Zealand's captain Brendon McCullum (right) reacts on day two of the third cricket test match.
NZ vs England, 3rd test
England's Jonathan Trott and Nick Compton await an appeal decision.
Third test: NZ v England
Tim Southee celebrates the wicket of Ian Bell.
Third test: NZ v England
Jonny Bairstow walks off after being dismissed LBW by Trent Boult.
Third test: NZ v England
Trent Boult in action on day three.
kane out
Kane Williamson heads back to the dressing room on the third day.
Third test New Zealand v England
Dean Brownlie ducks underneath a bouncer.
Peter Fulton
Peter Fulton
Peter Fulton
Peter Fulton brings up his second century of the test.
Tim Southee
Tim Southee takes the wicket of Nick Compton.
New Zealand v England third test
New Zealand celebrate after taking the wicket of Alastair Cook.
Tim Southee
Tim Southee is the centre of attention after taking a catch close in to dismiss england batsman Steven Finn.
Tim Southee
Tim Southee is the centre of attention after taking a catch close in to dismiss england batsman Steven Finn.
Black Caps v England
Kane Williamson plays a pull shot on day four.
Peter Fulton
Peter Fulton is congratulated by Kane Williamson after scoring 100.
New Zealand v England third test gallery
Joe Root plays a shot as Brendon McCullum looks on.
England v New Zealand third test gallery
Joe Root plays a pull shot as New Zealand wicketkeeper BJ Watling looks on.
New Zealand v England gallery
Ross Taylor and BJ Watling celebrate the wicket of Jonny Bairstow.
NZ vs England 1
England batsman Matt Prior avoiding a short ball that came close to hitting the wicket.
NZ vs England 2
New Zealand's Bruce Martin misses a difficult catch off Matt Prior.
NZ vs England 3
Tim Southee reacts to getting the decision from the umpire for an LBW against Matt Prior. It was then over-ruled by the third umpire.
NZ vs England 4
New Zealand's Neil Wagner celebrates the wicket of Ian Bell just before tea.
NZ vs England
New Zealand's Neil Wagner, centre, and his Black Cap teammates celebrate Wagner's wicket of Ian Bell, top left.
Third Test: New Zealand v England
Frustrated Black Caps show their emotions as test victory slips away.

Oh yes, the tribulations of struggling England was life-affirming stuff. But it wasn't the assault, it wasn't the savage six-hitting on the penultimate afternoon that should have won the test match.

It was the first morning plod, the self-denial of Peter Fulton, the ability to leave well alone, all the things that aren't very sexy in modern society.

Fulton's stoicism seems to come from an old-fashioned place, where men grunted, threw their socks in a corner to freshen up and then went out and won a couple of Victoria Crosses. Two-metre Peter was once thought by some to be a future Kiwi captain, but apparently he didn't measure up, didn't have the social patter, he wasn't quite "nice" enough.

'A TOUGH BUGGER': Peter Fulton's stoicism seems to come from an old-fashioned place.
EXCEEDED EXPECTATIONS: Peter Fulton was a revelation for the Black Caps in the test series against England.

Well, what a mess New Zealand cricket ended up in when it thought like that. It kept sending flash Harrys and Brendons up to the top of the order, blade-wielders with fast hands and short attention spans. And guess what, they kept getting out.

Before Fulton and Hamish Rutherford came together in Dunedin the previous 12 opening partnerships had amassed a top score of 40. The average tally against the West Indies, Sri Lanka, India and South Africa was a paltry 17.

It was no way to go about winning test matches, but New Zealand would have continued this way if Martin Guptill hadn't been injured. Guptill might fight Brownlie for the No 5 spot but he doesn't look a test opener. Mike Hesson is a lucky coach.

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Perhaps New Zealand had been seduced by the glamour of other sides. They remembered Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes with starry eyes or envied the manner in which those cocksure Aussies Michael Slater and Matthew Hayden had bludgeoned the opposition.

But these were freaks of batting nature. Geoffrey Boycott, old stonewall himself, was much closer to the mark when he said: "Test matches are won by long innings, not brief, hard-hitting ones, however spectacular they may seem ... If I bat for a day and a half and make a big score, that is half the battle."

Boycott used to talk of feeling physically sick when he was out. The only New Zealander who has looked physically sick in recent times is Kane Williamson, as yet again he strode out to the middle with next to nothing on the scoreboard and exposed to a rampant new ball attack.

Against England in this series New Zealand have averaged more than 50 for the first wicket and the openers have twice put their side in potentially winning positions. They put on 158 in Dunedin, a start from which New Zealand went on to boss the match. In Auckland, Fulton and Rutherford put on only 79 but it was a hugely significant partnership. They achieved the first objective, after England had won the toss, by seeing off the new ball.

Fulton's 136 in the first innings of this test didn't have the glamorous shot-making of the second innings, but it was by far the more significant knock.

Glenn Turner, New Zealand's greatest opener, calls Fulton "a tough bugger". He also noticed that the opener seemed to have cured the fault of planting his front foot and playing around it. Against England it all came together, although a little long-term faith might have brought much greater rewards earlier in Fulton's career.

When asked what he regarded as the fundamentals of opening, Turner came up with some first principles that any young, aspiring Kiwi batsman might pin on his wall.

Turner said: "You need to be technically proficient, a master of the fundamentals, because you are up against the new ball and the opposition at its freshest. You need to know what 'arousal' levels work best. Some players are sleepy before they go out and need to wake up with a bit of shadow boxing. Others need to calm down. You need to understand who you are.

"Defend first, attack second. You may middle the swinging new ball through the covers for four, but it is too loose a shot for an opener. The main thought is occupation.

"The best openers concentrate on line rather than length. They are not tempted by the wide half-volley or the half-pitcher ... concentrate on playing close to yourself.

"Wait for the ball before committing, then move the feet. Fulton can still move his feet early at times and Rutherford doesn't clear his hip and can get tucked up. But he can also become a very good player if he asks the right questions and is ready to learn and work."

Just like Fulton.

New Zealand can be very proud of the Canterbury captain. He is an old-fashioned sort of hero.

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