Rutherford on song in Leicester
Hamish Rutherford struck a brilliant unbeaten century as the New Zealanders enjoyed the better of a rain-affected opening day against England Lions.
Spurred on by overcast conditions and a tinge of green in the Grace Road surface, Lions skipper Joe Root unsurprisingly opted to bowl.
Yet Rutherford found an antidote to early-morning nibble and scored freely thereafter, reaching 116 not out by the time bad weather halted proceedings with the tourists 184 for three after 44 overs.
He was dropped on 85 by Michael Carberry at deep midwicket, Simon Kerrigan the unfortunate bowler as swirling winds hindered the usually sure-handed fielder, yet otherwise looked in imperious form.
Punishing on anything outside off stump against the seamers, he was ruthless following the introduction of Kerrigan.
Assisted by a powerful wind, the left-hander hit the tweaker's second ball for six and proceeded to strike three more in an eventful 36th over.
The first saw Graham Onions take a catch but step over the rope, the second heralded his century and the third piled further misery on the bowler given the vast distance it travelled.
Onions took full advantage of Root’s first decision this morning, his eight-over opening spell costing just 23 and yielding the wicket of Peter Fulton – who was trapped plumb in front.
It could have been better for the Durham paceman, currently top of the LV= County Championship Division One bowling charts having led the way last year.
However, Chris Woakes shelled a sharp-but-catchable chance in the gully at the start of Kane Williamson’s innings.
It did not matter, as Toby Roland-Jones’ first over heralded the end of Williamson’s stay; the batsman nailed a pull yet picked out Kerrigan at midwicket.
As impressive as Roland-Jones’ start was, he struggled for the remainder of the morning bowling into a strong breeze as Rutherford moved through the gears.
But those efforts were in stark contrast to what the Middlesex seamer produced in the afternoon as, bowling from the other end, he pinned Ross Taylor in front for 35.
Roland-Jones continued to look threatening, although he had little answer to Rutherford, who was still there when the heavens opened.