Wicketkeeper in awe of IPL opportunity April 18, 2008

Ronchi rockets to the big time

Cricinfo staff


Luke Ronchi's explosive batting attracted the attention of Mumbai even though he did not register for the auctions © Getty Images
 

Luke Ronchi did not register for the Indian Premier League (IPL) auctions for fear of looking like "a tool", but when Mumbai made him a late offer he jumped at the chance. The Western Australia wicketkeeper, who has not yet represented his country, this week understood just how massive the IPL is when he attended a dinner party at the home of the world's fifth richest man.

Mukesh Ambani has a net worth of $43 billion and is the head of Reliance Industries, and he also owns the Mumbai IPL franchise that Ronchi is representing. At Ambani's mansion this week Ronchi chatted with his captain, Sachin Tendulkar, and other members of his team including Shaun Pollock, and later said he was thrilled to get the offer from Mumbai.

"It was an amazing call to get, because when you see all the big names putting themselves in the first auction, you think you'll steer clear of all this sort of stuff because it was more for the international players," Ronchi told the Age. "Once I got that phone call, I got fairly excited about it; what it's going to do for world cricket and how it could possibly change my life as well.

"It was an amazing experience to meet [Ambani]. He is one of the richest men in the world, I think. He's got a massive house. We sat on a grassed area near his pool, he had a big screen set up to show some stuff and we all just sat around at tables chatting to each other and meeting some important people, I guess, from Reliance and from the Mumbai Indians."

It was quite an experience for Ronchi, who does not hold a Cricket Australia contract but is almost certainly the country's No. 2 wicketkeeper behind Brad Haddin. His explosive batting is the main reason Mumbai chased him - Ronchi owns the fastest century in Australia's domestic one-day history, a 56-ball effort - but his glovework to the likes of Harbhajan Singh and Lasith Malinga will also be important.

In his first game on Sunday his Bangalore opponents could include big names such as Rahul Dravid and Anil Kumble, as well as familiar faces like Cameron White and Ashley Noffke. "Playing with and against amazing players, and we're going to be on TV in front of millions of people, they are the main things," Ronchi said. "There is a massive buzz around the place."

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