Ronchi gets chance to press case
Luke Ronchi, the Wellington wicketkeeper, will be able to press his case for selection in the England Test series when he captains a New Zealand XI in a four-day warm up match against England starting on February 27.
Ronchi, 31, is hoping to usurp BJ Watling behind the stumps for the three-match series which begins in Dunedin on March 6 although Mike Hesson, the New Zealand coach, has hinted strongly Watling will retain his role. Ronchi's domestic form is impressive with 760 runs at 69.09, including four centuries, in the Plunkett Shield - the fifth best return.
But the man in possession is 27-year-old Watling, who kept during the South Africa series. And despite New Zealand's miserable performance, Watling came out with some credit, making 42 in the first Test and two half-centuries in the second - one of only two players to score over 100 runs in the series.
The New Zealand XI features eight players capped by New Zealand including Dean Brownlie, who has established himself in the middle order. He was the other batsman not disgraced in South Africa with 172 runs at 43.00 in the two Tests. But his selection will offer England a chance to look at him in red-ball cricket ahead of the first Test.
Other players vying for selection include Hamish Rutherford, who will look to put himself forward for a Test debut. He has replaced the injured Martin Guptill for the second ODI and if he finds some form, could be preferred to Guptill, who has only one half-century in his last 12 Test innings, particularly if Guptill does not recover in time.
Another battling for fitness is Mitchell McClenaghan, the left-arm quick, who was ruled out of the final two ODIs with a side strain. His injury could give Neil Wagner an opportunity if he can impress against England in Queenstown.
New Zealand XI to play England (one more name to be added)
Luke Ronchi (c), Corey Anderson, Neil Broom, Dean Brownlie, Carl Cachopa, Mark Gillespie, Tom Latham, James Neesham, Hamish Rutherford, Ish Sodhi, Neil Wagner