Fulton ton puts England on back foot
Peter Fulton’s maiden Test hundred dented England’s prospects of winning the series in New Zealand.
The 34-year-old opening batsman used his significant experience, chiefly from domestic cricket, to capitalise on Alastair Cook’s decision to bowl first at Auckland’s Eden Park in the decisive third Test.
Cook, like opposition captain Brendon McCullum who said before play he would have made the same choice, expected a grassy drop-in pitch to offer more pace and bounce.
As it was, the Black Caps moved steadily on an easy surface to a secure 250 for one by stumps, with Fulton and Kane Williamson sharing an unbroken stand of 171. Fulton had 124 to his name and Williamson 83.
Having made his Test bow seven years ago, Fulton has been in and out of the side with this being his 13th game. Scoring strongly to leg, the right-hander comfortably beat his previous format best of 75 versus West Indies.
Fulton’s nous was not shared by opening partner Hamish Rutherford who, carried away by the conditions, loosely edged Steven Finn to the safe hands of Cook at first slip two overs before lunch. His departure for 37 ended an alliance of 79.
Despite being 12 years Fulton’s junior, Williamson showed complete composure at the crease. He, like Fulton, barely played a false shot as England were not offered a chance all day save for the edge that sent Rutherford packing.
The lack of a square on this ground, predominantly used for rugby, meant the ball did not get scuffed and therefore prevented reverse-swing. Even when the second new ball was taken at the earliest opportunity, there was little movement for the seamers.
There was also next to no assistance for Monty Panesar and, with such short boundaries, the spinner in particular was punished for anything loose. Fulton hit him consecutively for two fours and a six, among the 35 boundaries that came during a day of mainly glorious sun.
While England will seek to limit New Zealand’s progress tomorrow, they will be confident their batsmen can too prosper on such a benign surface even without the injured Kevin Pietersen who was replaced by Jonny Bairstow in the only alteration to either team.
Live Text Commentary
4:35am - STUMPS - NZ 250/1; Fulton 124, Williamson 83 - Anderson delivers a maiden to Fulton before Finn does likewise to Williamson in the day’s last over. It has very much been the hosts’ day. Join me tomorrow to see if England can fight back in this decisive Test.
4:26am - Finn is back into the attack and Fulton clips three to midwicket to take New Zealand to 250.
4:21am - Even if they cannot get a wicket, Anderson and Broad are at least keeping it tight. Four overs are left today.
4:09am - Broad appeals for lbw against Williamson but the ball is going down leg and England wisely choose not to review.
4am - Broad’s first delivery with the fresh cherry nips back into Williamson’s pads and, next ball, Fulton clips three to leg.
3:55am - James Anderson takes the new ball at the earliest opportunity and his second delivery with it keeps low, evading wicketkeeper Matt Prior to go for four and bring up the 150 partnership.
3:49am - Joe Root has joined Trott in the attack and Williamson punches the spinner past mid-off for four. Two overs to go until the new ball is available.
3:44am - With the new ball soon available, Jonathan Trott is into his second straight over and Williamson pulls him for four.
3:35am - Broad finds some extra bounce with the changed ball as he completes the over and Panesar extracts more turn, although he is frustrated by Jonny Bairstow’s misfield at mid-off which costs a run.
3:25am - Midway through an over Broad questions the condition of the ball, which is into its 73rd over. The umpires call for drinks while they change the ball.
3:19am - Following a quiet couple of overs, Williamson pulls then immediately cuts Panesar for four - the first shot heralding New Zealand’s 200.
3:09am - Panesar and Stuart Broad, who has replaced Finn, send down maidens as the game of ‘cat and mouse’ continues.
3am - FIFTY! Williamson (118b 9x4 0x6) - Williamson calmly pulls and cuts Finn for four from consecutive balls to bring up a composed half-century.
2:53am - Freed from the nervous nineties, Fulton top-edges Finn for four before the seamer and Panesar plug the run-scoring.
2:49am - CENTURY! Fulton (203b 14x4 3x6) - The right-hander scampers a single to mid-on off Panesar to reach his maiden Test hundred. Well played two-metre Peter.
2:47am - CENTURY PARTNERSHIP - Fulton plays out a maiden to Finn, twice driving strongly to short cover. The opening batsman will have to wait a little longer. Kane Williamson cuts Panesar for a single to herald the hundred stand.
2:38am - With cloud cover spreading over Eden Park, Fulton pulls Steven Finn - a shot he has excelled with today - for four through midwicket to move to 99.
2:33am - Monty Panesar begins the session with a full-toss to Peter Fulton, who somewhat surprised can only play it back to the bowler. Panesar goes on to complete a maiden.
2:11am - TEA - NZ 173/1; Fulton 95, Williamson 39 - The second session ends wicketless with Fulton and Williamson looking in control. How will the former feel as he nears a first Test ton?
2:03am - Fulton drives Finn down the ground for four, moving him to 95. Finn reacts with a well-directed bouncer.
1:58am - Having faced a Panesar maiden, Fulton takes singles off Finn and Panesar to move to 90. For a man without a Test hundred, how nervous will the nineties be?
1:49am - Fulton shows his confidence by pulling Finn in front of square for his 15th boundary of the innings, three of which have been maximums.
1:41am - Finn replaces Broad, who is temporarily off the field. Williamson tries to go aerial against Panesar but miscues to a gap at midwicket.
1:34am - Panesar and Broad put together four consecutive maidens. Fulton breaks the deadlock with three back-to-back boundaries off Panesar, the first two fours to midwicket and then a towering six over mid-on.
1:15am - Fulton pulls Panesar for four to herald his fifty partnership with Williamson. In the next over Panesar chases to the extra-cover rope to keep Fulton to three off Broad, who then concedes four as Williamson cuts to a vacant third man.
1:08am - Williamson breaks the deadlock with a sumptuous straight-driven four off Broad, who shows his frustration at the end of the over by kicking the ball. The drinks break follows.
1:03am - Broad succeeds Anderson with a maiden to Williamson then Panesar immediately follows suit, bowling to Fulton.
12:57am - Facing Panesar, Fulton plays to midwicket and looks for a single before sending Williamson back. The non-striker has to dive to make his ground as the throw just misses the stumps.
12:48am - Panesar strays onto Fulton’s pads and the opener smacks him for six over midwicket. The flurry of boundaries continues as Williamson deposits an Anderson full-toss through the same region.
12:45am - Williamson opens the face against Anderson to take New Zealand into three figures. Having pushed four down the ground, the right-hander repeats his original shot for his third boundary of the over.
12:40am - After Anderson’s maiden to Williamson, Fulton continues his progress by flicking Monty Panesar - who has taken over from Finn - through midwicket for four.
12:33am - FIFTY! Fulton (109b 7x4 1x6) - The right-hander drives Finn through mid-on for four, taking him to a second half-century of the series.
12:30am - Finn and Anderson keep New Zealand’s progress slow. The doughty Fulton needs four runs for a fifty.
12:20am - Steven Finn is denied a maiden when Williamson slashes the over’s last ball over gully for four. Anderson shows his aggression by throwing the final delivery of the next over, which had been played back to him by Peter Fulton, towards the striker's stumps.
12:15am - James Anderson begins the post-lunch play with an accurate over during which Kane Williamson gets off the mark with a single to cover.
11:32pm - LUNCH - NZ 79/1; Fulton 41, Williamson 0 - With men crowding the bat, Panesar bowls a maiden to Fulton in the last over of a morning session that belongs to New Zealand in spite of that wicket.
11:27pm - WICKET! Rutherford c Cook b Finn 37; NZ 79/1 - Finn, who was clipped to fine-leg for four at the start of his previous over, beats Rutherford’s flashing outside edge. The left-hander does not learn his lesson as he plays loosely off the back foot and Cook holds on above his head at first slip.
11:16pm - Not to be outdone, Rutherford strikes Panesar for two maximums down the ground in an over. Between those shots his drive lands just short of Ian Bell at point.
11:11pm - Fulton top-edges a pull off Broad and inadvertently top-edges a six behind the wicketkeeper and slips.
11:08pm - Panesar comes on to bowl for the first time today, taking over from Finn. The spinner begins with a typically controlled over.
11:02pm - For the second time in two overs, Rutherford punches off the back foot for runs. The left-hander, who hit 171 on debut in the series opener, is growing in confidence. Fulton then punches Broad down the ground for four to bring up New Zealand’s fifty.
10:52pm - Following a tight Finn over, Rutherford deliberately uppercuts a short Broad ball over the slips for four. It did not clear the cordon by much, but was a safe enough shot to play.
10:45pm - Rutherford plays a loose drive off the back foot and is fortunate not to edge Broad behind.
10:40pm - Finn is rewarded for bowling a fuller length, twice consecutively beating Rutherford’s outside edge. Broad then returns to take over from Anderson, whose figures are 8-3-13-0.
10:30pm - Anderson brings a bouncer back in to Rutherford, who is dealt a glancing blow on the grille of his helmet, during a maiden. It is time for a drinks break.
10:26pm - Monty Panesar does well to make a left-handed diving stop at fine-leg, denying Rutherford a boundary off Finn. The seamer appeals in vain next ball for caught behind down leg against Fulton, who later in the over clips four to square-leg.
10:20pm - Finn errs with a short and wide delivery, which Fulton cuts aerially for four. The right-hander then edges Anderson past a diving Joe Root at third slip for another boundary, this one lucky although it cannot be considered a chance.
10:13pm - Steven Finn replaces Broad and begins with an inexpensive over, which is politely applauded by a modest crowd at the large venue. Anderson follows up with a maiden to Rutherford.
10:05pm - Fulton scores his first boundary, punishing a wayward Broad delivery by flicking it over square-leg.
10pm - Although Anderson and Broad are keeping it tight, there is little early movement for them. Fulton wafts outside off stump to Anderson, keeping the slip cordon interested.
9:50pm - Broad backs up Anderson’s maiden with one of his own to Fulton. Rutherford responds with a sweetly-driven four down the ground off Anderson, who immediately beats the outside edge.
9:42pm - Ball beats bat for the first time today with Rutherford defeated by Anderson, but the batsman survives to play out a maiden.
9:39pm - The left-handed Hamish Rutherford is off the mark first up, tucking Stuart Broad to midwicket for a single. Fulton again can afford to leave the ball in the rest of the over.
9:34pm - James Anderson takes the new ball with Peter Fulton on strike. The right-hander gets going with two just in front of square-leg in an otherwise tidy but unthreatening over.
9:25pm - One of the curiosities of this game will be the scoring of boundaries, given Eden Park is primarily a rugby stadium and therefore does not have the traditional dimensions of a cricket ground. The opening Twenty20 international of the tour was played here and England took advantage of the short straight boundaries to amass 214 for seven, their highest format total.
9:10pm - Here are the teams in full:
New Zealand: Peter Fulton, Hamish Rutherford, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Brendon McCullum (captain), Dean Brownlie, BJ Watling (wicketkeeper), Tim Southee, Bruce Martin, Neil Wagner, Trent Boult.
England: Alastair Cook (captain), Nick Compton, Jonathan Trott, Ian Bell, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Matt Prior (wicketkeeper), Stuart Broad, Steven Finn, James Anderson, Monty Panesar.
9:03pm - ENGLAND WIN THE TOSS AND BOWL - Cook calls correctly and opts to give his bowlers first use of a grassy drop-in pitch expected to offer good pace and bounce. Bairstow for Pietersen is England’s only alteration. New Zealand are unchanged, meaning Bracewell misses out.
8:55pm - There is good news weather-wise in that the forecast is good for the entire game. Fingers crossed we will not have the rain delays that blighted the Dunedin and Wellington Tests. News of the toss is coming soon.
8:45pm - Captain Alastair Cook has said Jonny Bairstow will take the place of the injured Kevin Pietersen. We will find out shortly at the toss if that is England’s only change from the first two Tests. Doug Bracewell could play for New Zealand, having been added to their squad for this match.
8:35pm - Hello and welcome to ecb.co.uk’s coverage of the decisive third Test between New Zealand and England at Auckland’s Eden Park. With the first two games being rain-hit draws, the winner here will take the series.