With four centuries already this season, the Otago Volts' Hamish Rutherford is coming to the Burger King Super Smash in fine touch.
Being near the top of the first class and List A highest scorer logs has helped the Volts' strong start to the season, with a chance to nab silverware this Saturday in the Ford Trophy final, and earned Rutherford a call up to the NZA squad, first as injury cover and now a full squad member.
Spending time getting his body right, studying, and appraising his game over winter put him in the right space to rack up some big scores.
"I had some knee surgery in April with allowed me to be in Dunedin - I did a bit of study, and was able to have a little bit of time away from cricket and get properly fit.
"I also sat back and had a look at my game and what I really wanted or needed to do. In the simplest way, I focused on my strengths, whereas in the previous two seasons I'd spent a lot of time on my weaknesses," he said.
Rutherford came back from a first innings duck to make a fine century in Otago's first Plunket Shield match against a Northern Districts attack that included Trent Boult and Neil Wagner on an extremely tricky pitch.
"We've come off a well-documented poor couple of years... being an older player in a young group, I wanted to make a statement to our group and the fans that we're not done! I think that set the season up quite well. I'm not one to get to excited about innings, but I was happy to put a performance like that on for the team when we needed something."
The Volts will play at home for the Ford Trophy this Saturday against the Firebirds - they've answered their pre-season critics with a level of consistency and performance many didn't expect to see from a side with so many cricketers just starting their careers.
"We've really come together as a group pre-season - there's not magic formula, but if we're all playing for each other and enjoying each others' success, it makes things a lot easier. I've got some runs, Broomy's got some runs and the young guys have stepped up at crucial times. It's paying dividends - everyone's having fun playing and it's so much easier playing cricket when you're having fun."
Heading into the BK Super Smash, Rutherford isn't going to try and change too much, and is looking forward to putting on a show for the fans.
"I try and keep my game similar and basic whichever format I'm playing. T20 is a real rhythm sort of game, you can get on a roll as a player and as a team. It's the best time of the year to be playing cricket, it's great playing with some noise and atmosphere, it's going to be a nice couple of months.
The 30 December double header in Alexandra against the Knights, along with Sparks v Spirit, is one Rutherford is particularly looking forward to, being a 'home' game for him.
"I grew up there as a youngster, have fond memories of sitting under the willow trees at Molyneux. It's nice that we're back there in the holiday period, it's hot and there's a great chilled out atmosphere, it's a great place to play. Playing alongside the Sparks will be cool and something different. It'll be great for the province to have men and women playing at the same grounds, and to see how it goes through the competition."
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