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Luke Ronchi to pursue New Zealand career

Brydon Coverdale

February 16, 2012

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Luke Ronchi on ODI debut, West Indies v Australia, 2nd ODI, Grenada, June 27, 2008
Luke Ronchi could play for New Zealand as early as next January © AFP
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Western Australian wicketkeeper Luke Ronchi will pursue a career in New Zealand in a bid to win a place in their national side. Ronchi has told his Western Australia team-mates of his decision and he will finish his commitments with the Warriors this summer before heading to New Zealand next season.

Ronchi, 30, played four one-day internationals and three Twenty20s for Australia in 2008 and 2009 when he was second in line to Brad Haddin, but he lost his place in the state side towards the end of 2008-09. He has struggled to hold down his Sheffield Shield spot since then, although he has made two Ryobi Cup hundreds this season.

In the national setup, Ronchi has been overtaken by Matthew Wade and Tim Paine, and probably others like Peter Nevill, and his chances of further games for Australia were slim. Ronchi will qualify to play for New Zealand having been born there, although his family moved to Perth when he was six years old.

Under the ICC's qualification rules, Ronchi will be eligible to play for New Zealand next January, having last played for Australia in January 2009. The ICC condition states: "Where a male player is seeking to qualify to play for a Full Member, he must not have participated in an international match for any other Full Member during the immediately preceding four years."

Ronchi may yet be able to play for the Perth Scorchers squad at the Champions League Twenty20 later this year as the tournament will be held before New Zealand's domestic season begins. Ronchi said he knew the move was a risk but he felt it was his best chance to play international cricket again.

"I am heading across the Tasman with no guarantees but at 30 years of age I feel that I still have a lot to offer at the very highest level and I am looking forward to making the move with my family," Ronchi said. "I have been around so many outstanding players, coaches and administration staff in my time at the WACA and I can't thank them enough for the support they have provided to me over the past decade."

Ronchi has chosen a good time to push his case, with New Zealand having sifted through five wicketkeepers in all formats over the past two years. Gareth Hopkins and Reece Young have both been tried and discarded, while Brendon McCullum no longer takes the gloves in Test cricket.

BJ Watling was behind the stumps in New Zealand's last Test, while the South African-born gloveman Kruger van Wyk was also in the squad for the Test against Zimbabwe. But Ronchi will need to prove himself in New Zealand's domestic cricket before he will be considered for higher duties, and having not scored a first-class century since 2009-10, his chances might be more likely in limited-overs cricket.

A powerful striker, Ronchi scored what was then the fastest century in Australian domestic one-day history in 2006-07 when he reached triple figures in 56 balls against New South Wales. In a first-class game the following summer he struck a 51-ball ton against Queensland, his second fifty coming in a remarkable 11 deliveries, and his 22-ball fifty in St Kitts in 2008 was then the equal third-fastest half-century by an Australian in an ODI.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by merrallt on (February 17, 2012, 20:03 GMT)

Great for nz cricket to have Luke and wellington will welcome hime. He will not just walk into the national side though as we have some class keepers at the moment in watling, latham, van wylk and de booder. Also Mc Cullum in the shorter form. It will be great competition for these guys and can only make nz cricket stronger. Any more Kiwis in living aussie who qualify? I bet!

Posted by   on (February 17, 2012, 4:22 GMT)

Why didn't he move sooner, he'd of had a better chance in terms of his age. I was obvious that he wasn't going to be a full time player for Australia. Had he been playing 1st Class Cricket in NZ for the last couple of years I would have thought it would have served him better. Anyway, good luck to him. NZ still won't beat us on a regular basis.

Posted by SladeR on (February 17, 2012, 3:05 GMT)

With Watling, Derek de Boorder, even Tom Latham, New Zealand is well served for future test wicketkeeper batsmen, which is the only area NZ could be considered to be looking for a wicketkeeper/batsman. McCullum will continue to serve in the T20 and 1day scene. By the time he qualifies Ronchi will be 32, I don't see the point of a discarded Australian heading to NZ. He's certainly not the future of NZ cricket.

Posted by   on (February 17, 2012, 2:37 GMT)

As an Aussie, I admit the current selection climate isn't giving him many opportunities, I'd love to see New Zealand succeed at a higher level internationally (just not against us!) and I hope they welcome Ronchi on-board as he's a fantastic player. The Kiwis need a talented gloveman right now.

Posted by   on (February 17, 2012, 0:29 GMT)

Good luck too him, Luke is a very good player who has been quite unlucky. But I think he is probably going to be a very good choice for New Zealand should they go with him, because his glove work is excellent and is batting can be very destructive. At the very least he will get his chance at Test cricket and I hope he does well for New Zealand. Ronchi was the player I thought might have gotten the nod over Haddin after Gilly retired if his form had continued, but a lack of form has cost him that chance in Australia, and opened the door for Paine and Wade and probably others. Good luck Luke, all the best.

Posted by Nerk on (February 16, 2012, 21:09 GMT)

Lucky New Zealand I say! Good luck Luke. A very good player, and an outstanding keeper, one of the best in Aus. Watch Big Bash highlights to see his class as a batsman and keeper.

Posted by gothetaniwha on (February 16, 2012, 20:38 GMT)

I see no problem , good player , i,m sure there is more NZ born AUS raised cricketers who must be thinking the same way esp after the sucess Browlie has had . Don,t know about going to Wellington who need a decent keeper but have been one of the bottom teams in NZ for the last 5 years, should have a go at bumping Hopkins out of the Auckland team .

Posted by jonesy2 on (February 16, 2012, 17:23 GMT)

NZ should realise the outstanding quality that they have been gifted here. ronchi was the next gilchrist at one stage

Posted by jonesy2 on (February 16, 2012, 17:20 GMT)

holy moly i never even realised this! as a nz born warriors supporter i say goodluck to him and im pretty sure this is a brilliant and amazing thing for nz cricket, surely he will be their keeper batsman for now on in all forms. his form has been great as well let alont his career of being just behind glichrist and haddin and now wade and paine. with ronchi, NZ have probably a top 3 keeper/batsman in world cricket

Posted by   on (February 16, 2012, 16:56 GMT)

If the Kiwi selectors have any sense, they'll stick him straight in. This is a guy with a strike rate of 205 in ODIs & 174 in international T20s.

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Brydon CoverdaleClose
Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
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