Rain may have washed out play in the first game of England's cricket tour yesterday, but that didn't stop New Zealand XI skipper Andrew Ellis from giving a resounding endorsement of new Black Cap Hamish Rutherford.
Only 9.1 overs were played in the warm-up Twenty20 at Cobham Oval, with the New Zealand XI managing 70-1 before umpires deemed rain to be too much for play to continue.
Rutherford, who was named in the Black Caps T20 team to play England in their three-match series starting on Saturday, scored 21 of those - with three boundaries and an impressive six over point coming in his quickfire 15-ball knock.
Ellis, who will be a T20 team-mate of Rutherford's during the England series, saluted the 23-year-old's "clean" ability to strike the ball.
He'd been impressed with the Otago opener's level-headed approach to the game.
"He keeps things really simple," Ellis said.
"One interesting thing about him is when he gets out, he's quite a level-headed guy. He doesn't throw things around. It's fantastic to see.
"He just approaches it the same way, and that will bode well for him over time, I think. His natural talent will emerge if he keeps that level head."
Rutherford looked at ease at the crease until English T20 skipper Stuart Broad took a superb swirling catch to dismiss him off the bowling of Chris Woakes - but Ellis is expecting their bowling approach to him will change over the coming week.
"There's no doubt they would have seen him for the first little bit - so they will have a little chat and assess their line and length," he said.
"But if Ruds stays in that even mindset ... because he plays all around the wicket, whatever plan they have, I'm sure he'll be able to counter."
Anton Devcich (22 off 25 balls) and Tom Latham (23 off 15) were at the crease when play ended.
None of the English bowlers really fired in the overs that were played - though English fans will be pleased to see Broad, who missed the majority of the recent tour to India with a heel injury, bowling again.
The rain robbed former Black Caps skipper Ross Taylor of a warmup innings, too. He will leave the New Zealand XI setup this morning to organise himself ahead of re-joining the national side.
Otago's Neil Broom has joined the squad as Taylor's replacement.
Another Twenty20 match will be played at Cobham Oval today, in addition to the Waitangi Day encounter tomorrow.
NEW ZEALAND XI
H Rutherford c Broad b Woakes 21
A Devcich not out 22
T Latham not out 23
Extras (b 2, wd 2) 4 Total (for 1 wicket, 9.1 overs) 70
Bowling: S Finn 3-0-22-0, S Broad 1.1-0-9-0, C Woakes 2-0-15-1 (2w), J Dernbach 1-0-12-0, J Tredwell 2-0-10-0. Result: No result (rain).
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