Cricket: Rutherford hit by a beamer

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The Independent Online
New Zealand 288-4

England Amateur XI 149

New Zealand win by 139 runs

KEN RUTHERFORD, the New Zealand captain, was struck on the head by a beamer and taken to hospital yesterday as the Kiwis' planned gentle tour opener became an afternoon of attrition. Rutherford was hit by the England Amateur XI seamer, Alan van Lint, and had a precautionary X-ray after feeling dizzy.

His predecessor as captain, Martin Crowe, also failed to field after suffering pain in his back, and with his chronic right knee injury which he expects to trouble him all tour.

The injuries blighted an otherwise ideal first match. The bowlers had a useful work-out while Blair Pocock made a century, Crowe a hobbling 56, and Rutherford 34 in 35 balls before being hit.

The beamer - called a no-ball by umpire Barrie Leadbetter - came when Rutherford made room for himself by stepping to leg. 'It nearly worked. I expected the ball to be on that line but not that length,' Rutherford said. 'The bowler suggested he had tried to bowl a yorker but there's about six feet difference in height.'

But Rutherford, a very amiable captain, made light of the matter: 'I feel a bit light-headed and can't drink alcohol for 24 hours but there are no real problems. It has probably knocked some sense into me.'

Rutherford, who was not wearing a helmet, went down for a few moments before regaining his feet and striding off, brushing aside Mark Plummer, the tour physiotherapist, in the process.

Crowe's stiff back is a legacy of the weekend's 32-hour flight. His knee is more serious. Two operations have failed to cure it and Crowe admitted: 'I have some permanent damage. It is a bit sore but I can live with it. I won't look too pretty but I can still post a score.

'Two weeks ago I could not even run so I have made good progress. I have had three months' rehabilitation and still need to stretch the knee for 20 minutes before every innings.'

Although Crowe plans to play every other match there must be a doubt as to how it will stand up to three five-day Tests. Since breaking down in the first Test against Australia in October, he has played just two one-day matches in January.

Crowe said the injury was the reason for his rejecting the chance to regain the captaincy. 'I am going to have this problem for the rest of my career. I don't think I'll be able to captain again, I will be too busy concentrating on being able to play.'

Crowe was twice missed reaching eight - the second chance a simple one to wicketkeeper Stuart Waterton off Bruce French's brother Neil - but then reached his fifty before being run out by Steve Dean.

Dean was England's only hope of approaching their target but, after batting 30 overs for 36, he was caught at deep square leg.

(Photograph omitted)