WORCESTERSHIRE’S record-equalling opener Hamish Rutherford is returning to Blackfinch New Road for the remainder of the season.
The New Zealander is replacing Callum Ferguson as the county’s overseas player for the final stages of the Vitality Blast and Specsavers County Championship programme and arrived in the UK on Thursday.
He was part of the team which defeat Birmingham Bears by nine wickets at Edgbaston 24 hours later but was not required to bat after the superb form of skipper Moeen Ali and Riki Wessels.
First team coach Alex Gidman said: “I was quite relieved about that because he got off a plane on Thursday.
“He was down to go in at four and we just sort of kept nudging him back when it looked like we had a good chance of getting over the line.”
Ferguson is returning home to Australia for personal reasons after linking up with Worcestershire for a second spell in early May.
Thirty-year-old Rutherford became only the second player to score a century on first class and List A debut for Worcestershire at the start of this season.
He hit 123 in the Specsavers County Championship match at the Fischer County Ground, Leicester, and followed it with 108 on his Royal London One-Day Cup debut at Emirates Old Trafford, plus 126 at Northampton in the same competition.
The only other Worcestershire player to complete a first class-List A hundred double on their debut was Australian Phil Jaques in 2006.
Worcestershire Cricket Steering Group Chairman, Paul Pridgeon, said: “Hamish is returning for the final part of the season and is looking forward to coming back.
“He made a great impression with the bat and forged a nice bond with the boys.
“Callum is leaving here early for personal reasons which we fully respect.”
Rutherford, the son of ex-New Zealand captain Ken Rutherford, has played 16 Tests, four ODIs and seven T20Is for the Black Caps.
Martin Guptill has also departed New Road to fly to Sri Lanka and link up with New Zealand for three T20Is.
Skipper Moeen Ali praised the contribution of the big-hitting Guptill and said: “He has been good to have around and the boys love him. There is a reason why we keep bringing him back – he does well.
“He does well for us, the formula is always working. We know what he can do and what he brings to the team.”