Sherfane Rutherford's process leads to 'best-ever' knock

West Indies player Sherfane Rutherford raises his bat to the crowd after scoring a half-century against New Zealand, during the Group C T20 World Cup match, on June 12.  - Photo by Lincoln Holder
West Indies player Sherfane Rutherford raises his bat to the crowd after scoring a half-century against New Zealand, during the Group C T20 World Cup match, on June 12. - Photo by Lincoln Holder

WEST INDIES middle-order batsman Sherfane Rutherford said trusting the process and backing his ability to score boundaries at the back end contributed to his match-winning knock against New Zealand at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy (BLCA), Tarouba on June 12.

The powerful left-hander scored 68 not out off 39 balls as the 2024 International Cricket Council (ICC) men’s Twenty/20 World Cup co-hosts West Indies got their third straight win of the tournament with a 13-run triumph over New Zealand. The Windies booked their place in the Super Eight stage, with the Kiwis being dealt a second straight loss.

In the 25-year-old Rutherford, the West Indies had a hero who rescued them from a position of peril. Rutherford came to the crease with the West Indies on 22 for four in the sixth over, and they were reeling at 30 for five in the subsequent over.

On a wicket he described as “tacky and spongy,” Rutherford soaked up the pressure from the Kiwis in a calculated approach, before launching a vicious onslaught in the death overs to take the Windies to 149 for nine. He described it as his best-ever innings.

“I tried to bat time and singles. I always tell myself I perform well when I give myself time. It’s about the process. Sometimes when you look too far ahead you can forget the process.

“I will put it as my best knock. This is the World Cup and this is my dream. I always wanted to play and perform in a World Cup. I think this one is going to stay close to my heart.” The West Indies were in all sorts of trouble at the halfway stage at 49 for five, but Rutherford received assurance from coach Daren Sammy at the ten-over mark. And with wickets falling regularly at the other end, he knew he had to shoulder the load.

Rutherford was unused by the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) during their successful 2024 Indian Premier League (IPL) campaign, but he said the stint had prepared him for challenging moments.

“I was in the IPL for two months. I was preparing, even though I wasn’t playing. I think keeping it simple and backing my skill was the key,” Rutherford said.

“I pattern my game for these types of situations. Even before the World Cup, I tried to put myself in a position in the nets where I have to bat properly then excel in the end. It’s good to see my plans are actually coming to show.”

Despite Rutherford’s resistance, the Kiwis were still in control and they looked set to bowl out the hosts when Alzarri Joseph was castled by Trent Boult in the 18th over to leave the Windies on 112 for nine.

Last man Gudakesh Motie faced just one ball in the Windies innings, but his role was integral in the grand scheme of things as his defensive prod brought an end to Boult’s fiery spell of three for 16.

With the four Kiwi seamers exhausting their four-over quotas, Rutherford knew he could cash in on the last two overs – and he did so in fine style. Rutherford was playing chess against captain Kane Williamson and the New Zealand bowlers, and he was about to call checkmate. Rutherford scored 31 off his first 27 balls, with a swashbuckling 37 coming off the next 12 balls as he lit up the BLCA.

“Looking at their bowling lineup, I knew they were short of two overs...the two bowlers they had to make up with, I knew I could have scored maximum runs (against them).”

A part-timer at best, medium-pacer Daryl Mitchell bowled the penultimate over. It was a move that helped swing the game in West Indies’s favour, as Rutherford slammed three sixes in the over and smartly took a single off the final ball to retain strike for the final over. In the final over, Rutherford added 18 more runs off left-arm spinner Santner to notch his highest T20 international score and take West Indies to 149 in the process.

The 37-run partnership for the final wicket between Motie and Rutherford was also the highest for a ten-wicket stand in the history of the tournament. Motie had an even more impactful outing in the second half of the game, as the ICC Player of the Month for May 2024 grabbed figures of three for 25 and took the wickets of the talismanic Williamson, Rachin Ravindra and Mitchell in consecutive overs to put New Zealand against the ropes.

Windies vice-captain Alzarri Joseph grabbed four for 19, including top-scorers Glenn Phillips (40) and Finn Allen (26) as the hosts restricted the Kiwis to 136 for nine to climb to the group C summit.

Rutherford said the West Indies are taking each game as it comes, but the end goal remains the same.

“If we can win every game we would take it. It’s good to get the Q (qualification) in front of our name. Our aim is to play the last game of the tournament so our aim is to keep improving and getting better.”

He said there is room for improvement in the team’s fielding and strike rotation, but he said the overall signs are positive.

“For the past three games, it has been three different players (stepping up). I’m not concerned (about the batting) because that’s what championship teams do.

“It’s for us to keep our strengths and keep working on our game and that will be the key for us.”

The hosts will close off the group phase versus the unbeaten Afghanistan in St Lucia on June 17, and the Man of the Match winner wants to continue the momentum.

“Afghanistan is a good team. But at the end of the day, we’re a good team as well and we don’t want to look at the opposition.

“As a team, once we do the right things, more often than not we come out on top.”


"Sherfane Rutherford’s process leads to ‘best-ever’ knock"

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