County news April 8, 2016

Birmingham sign Ronchi for T20 Blast

Luke Ronchi represented New Zealand in the recent World T20 semi-final against England © Getty Images

Birmingham have signed Luke Ronchi as their second overseas player for the 2016 NatWest Blast season.

Ronchi, the New Zealand wicketkeeper-batsman, will be available for all 14 games in the group stages and is seen by the club as providing, along with Laurie Evans, the middle-order power-hitting that they have sometimes struggled for in recent times.

Ronchi, who has represented both Australia and New Zealand in international cricket, was a member of the New Zealand team at the World T20. He also played five matches in the Blast for Somerset in 2015, averaging 22.25 at a strike-rate of 150.84 runs per 100 balls.

He has also had spells with Perth Scorchers in the Big Bash and Mumbai Indians in the IPL. He plays domestic cricket in New Zealand for Wellington Firebirds along with Birmingham's other overseas player, offspinner Jeetan Patel.

Birmingham had another New Zealander, Brendon McCullum, as an overseas player in T20 last year but he decided he would like to spend more time in London this year and signed for Middlesex.

"Luke has played in the biggest limited overs competitions in the world and he is widely recognised as one of the finest wicket-keeper batsmen in the game," Dougie Brown, the club's director of cricket, said. "Having a player of his quality for all 14 group games is a huge boost as we look to build on our recent success in the competition. His power and ability to consistently hit boundaries will bolster our middle-order batting line-up and I am sure that his performances will also be great entertainment for our fans at Edgbaston."

Birmingham won the competition in 2014 and were beaten in the semi-final in 2015. Finals Day in 2016 will, once again, be held at their home ground of Edgbaston.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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