Peter Fulton fears he's failed once too often
Peter Fulton's test summer was bitter-sweet. He was a part of two historic test series wins, including the 1-0 win over India which reignited the country's test cricket fire.
But he struggled with the bat at the top of the order. There's plenty of excuses, though, to his credit, Fulton made none.
Brendon McCullum lost four of five tosses and Fulton and opening partner Hamish Rutherford were inserted each time.
He got a couple of questionable decisions too, but that's cricket and Fulton knows his currency is runs. That's all that matters.
He's been excellent at second slip, he's talked about as a valuable member and leader within the side, but he just hasn't scored enough runs.
After scoring 61 in his first test innings of the summer, Fulton's next eight bats delivered just 62 further runs and a highest score of 13.
His 22nd test, the memorable draw with India in Wellington, may be his last.
He hopes not, but he knows he's in the firing line. It's unclear if the selectors will keep faith in both Fulton and Rutherford for the batsmen-friendly pitches in the West Indies.
That's unlikely with Tom Latham scoring a pile of domestic runs and getting through his test debut largely unscathed.
"Any time you're not scoring runs, you're leaving you future in selectors' hands," Fulton said.
"It's been disappointing that I haven't been able to score as many runs as I would have liked."
Fulton admitted part of the issue was technical, but insisted he continues to work hard on his technique.
"When you open the batting, you're getting the tough end of the conditions. The Indians had very useful bowlers with the new ball and, in test cricket, if you're not 100 per cent on top of your game, then you're going to be put under pressure."
He's received no word from the selection panel or coaches about his future so will attempt to do what got him in the side in the first place, score plenty of domestic runs.
He and Latham both rejoin the Canterbury team for their final first-class match of the summer against Central Districts at Napier starting tomorrow.
Tim Johnston and Simon Keen drop out and with the Plunket Shield already sewn up, Hamish Bennett has been rested and replaced by Matt McEwan.
And while the rest of the team can play the final match of the competition it's a final trial of sorts for Fulton and will be his last long-form game before the West Indies test side is named for their New Zealand winter tour.
Scoring first-class runs has never been an issue for Fulton who averages 44.52 for Canterbury in 90 matches.
He recently passed good friend Michael Papps as Canterbury's highest first-class run scorer.
"I'm pretty happy with that," he said.
"That means a lot. I remember going through the almanacs when I was young and seeing who had the most runs and wickets etcetera. I never thought I'd get to No 1 because Pappsy and I are about the same age and he was in the team a couple of years before I was."
But Papps, who scored 6663 runs for Canterbury, moved to Wellington where he has scored a further 1971 runs.
"He sent me a message congratulating me when it happened. But it's nice to ensure the record is with someone who's only played for Canterbury."
After he reached Papps' mark, he told Latham he'd have to keep playing for a few years yet to make it difficult for the young brigade coming through to knock him off.
Ironically Latham may not get a chance, as he could first knock Fulton off the test openers' perch and miss plenty of domestic games wearing a black cap instead of a red and black one.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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