West Indies in New Zealand 2013-14 December 19, 2013

Watling keeps Ronchi on his toes


BJ Watling will be able to put pressure on Luke Ronchi for New Zealand's one-day wicketkeeping slot if he can increase his strike-rate. That was the strong indication given by Bruce Edgar, the national selection, after he named the one-day squad to face West Indies where Ronchi will be given a chance to cement the keeper's role in the middle order but faces competition.

Watling is secure in the Test position having enjoyed a productive 2013 where he has scored, as of the start of the Hamilton Test, 576 runs at 41.14 and performed tidily with the gloves. However, now that Brendon McCullum's career behind the stumps is over there is potentially more fluidity in the one-day position and although Ronchi has the frontrunner's position there are others in the frame.

Ronchi's and Watling's one-day statistics make for an interesting comparison. In List A cricket, Watling averages 39.03 but his strike-rate is a steady 69.24 whereas Ronchi's lower average of 28 comes with the eye-catching strike-rate of 105.12. At the moment it's the scoring rate which is swaying the selectors.

"He gives us firepower and naturally scores quickly," Edgar said. "He's got a strike-rate of around 120. BJ is also pushing the door, he's close but he doesn't quite give us that firepower. We know he's working hard on it and he wants to challenge that spot."

Ronchi is already on his second chance having initially been dropped after a tough return to international cricket, following his previous stint for Australia, on the England tour and subsequent Champions Trophy earlier this year.

He made 47 runs in six innings and was not in the squad to tour Bangladesh and Sri Lanka until Kane Williamson broke his thumb and McCullum was forced out with his back injury. He produced some solid displays in Sri Lanka and will now be the man with the gloves, and at No. 7, for the series against West Indies.

New Zealand's one-day squad was a statement of wanting to play aggressive cricket. Alongside the recall for Jesse Ryder, Edgar has also told Adam Milne, the Central Districts quick bowler, to let the handbrake go against West Indies. Milne, who went wicketless during the series in Sri Lanka, has the most to gain from Tim Southee missing the opening two matches due to needing minor toe surgery.

"Adam did the hard yards on some pretty slow wickets and we want to give him the opportunity in the West Indies ODIs and give him a chance on our tracks which are hopefully quicker and bit bouncier and he can demonstrate how quick he is."

He also gave support to Mitchell McClenaghan to continue in his role as strike-bowler after he found life tougher in the subcontinent. Overall, McCleanghan has an impressive return of 35 wickets in 14 matches at 20.08.

"His economy rate…was a factor of learning to bowl the right lengths on those pitches which is quite difficult. Prior to that his strike rate was very good and economy rate very good. He's a hustler and tries to get wickets. By all accounts in the most recent Plunket Shield match he was giving guys a good hurry up. He wants to get wickets and knock the top off."

Fellow left-arm Trent Boult, who took 10 for 80 in the Wellington Test against West Indies, has been given hope of feature at the 2015 World Cup despite being overlooked for this squad. Boult has not played an ODI since February, against England in Napier, and is viewed as a red-ball specialist at the moment.

"Trent has aspirations to play one-day cricket, we've had that discussion with him," Edgar said. "He's very keen to develop his white ball game and perhaps is less confident with the white ball over the red. He wants to do more work and become more confident and comfortable in that space.

"We see him as part of our 2015 planning and it's just a case of how he's moving along. There may be an opportunity for him to come and play but we just want to see where he sits and how he's going."

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Vaughan on December 24, 2013, 2:15 GMT

    OK, we'll the way I see it is Guptil. Ryder, Taylor, Anderson are all dashers! you need a Williamson and a Watling for balance, in terms of playing style. Papps was found out badly in test cricket and was basically a walking wicket at test level, however he did nothing wrong in ODIs and infact looked accomplished. his stats speak for themselves. but he's 34. If Ryder were to fail I think Latham is probably next in line in the selectors thinking. He's the future opener for tests and ODI's for sure. Ryder is class and he is scoring big runs consistently. fully expect him to deliver with his mate Guptil at the other end. They are investing a lot in Milne but still to see the pace he supposedly has. That's what our attack needs to win the WC! variation, pace and spin. We have plenty of world class swing covered but we need some genuine pace! If they can develop Milne and Sodhi in to wicket taking options we can be serious contenders next year at the WC!

  • stewey on December 23, 2013, 10:41 GMT

    I prefer Watling, but hoping the pressure on Ronchi will result in some good runs. Make the most of your opportunity (use it or loose it)

  • David on December 21, 2013, 12:57 GMT

    @dowdenpatr - Good point about Papp's height. I haven't seen enough of him of late but I do hear he has worked on the short ball, still don't want him in either team. You mention Guptil in the mix for tests, now this guy has been found out time and again against spin and his record is disappointing. I wish he had performed better in tests as I do like him but he can't be there at the moment. Same as Flynn, goes well domestically but at test level has been pretty rubbish in my opinion - which takes me back to me argument about the NZ domestic comp. The gulf is massive, if we had a stronger comp that would translate to a bigger pool of depth but we have never really had that - just a handful of decent players at best.Imagine one week facing Brent Arnel and then the next someone 20 clicks quicker and who can swing it. Ryder, well we'll see how he goes. Personally I want him to open but only time will tell - thanks for the debate! Always interesting to get a good reply.

  • Drew on December 21, 2013, 8:53 GMT

    Not a fan of Ronchi. Watling or Papps would be the go. I wouldnt want Papps in ODI team unless there is room for Ryder in the middle somewhere. Papps would need to open only.

    Watling is best fit wicketkeeper for any format at the moment.

  • Patrick on December 21, 2013, 4:29 GMT

    @DJRNZ I am sorry but Papps is not a test player because of his height. As was found out when he toured South Africa they bullied him with short balls and he couldn't handle them. Ryder is not a ODI opener! The only reason he has a half decent average in ODI internationals for NZ is because of the season or too when NZ had the driest pitches anywhere around especially designed for the Indian series. His List A average is like 28 mark my words he will struggle and then they will looking for alternatives, when Papps and even Watling are right there under there noses as consistent List A openers. I disagree with you that domestic cricket doesn't translate because if that were the case we would be as good as Bangladesh. What people mean when they say that is that our players lack the technical skills for test cricket which is true when you look at our openers. For tests I would go with Guptil/Raval and Flynn and Ryder at five leaving an Anderson vs McCullum debate.

  • David on December 20, 2013, 12:46 GMT

    and @ dowdenpatr - although I have nothing against Papps I don't think his domestic form will translate into the same at the international level. This is because the NZ domestic comp is so weak. Plus Papps has an average of 50 in ODI's as he has not played many games. To be fair to him though and due to our 2 test openers being pretty average I would understand him getting another go in the test arena. We don't need him on the ODI's as we have a pretty settled top order which will be even better with Ryder in the mix.

  • David on December 20, 2013, 12:28 GMT

    Grant Gilbert - I support NZ and am a big fan of Watling's but your comment that he is the best in his business has left me lost for words. He is so not in the class of Dhoni or Sangakkara or de Villiers. Those 3 of the best regardless of their function in the team - Watiling ain't even close and if he does get even remotely close I'd be a very happy man.

  • Dummy4 on December 20, 2013, 11:46 GMT

    Grant Gilbert. Take a hard look Dhoni or Sangakkara or de Villiers. Please.

  • ESPN on December 20, 2013, 7:14 GMT

    Bj watling is the best keeper batsman in the world. Why would he not be in the one day team

  • Patrick on December 20, 2013, 7:03 GMT

    I can't believe Papps is being ignored! The guy is averaging over 100 this season and over 40 in list A he has a ODI International average of 50. Selectors either hate him or just love Ronchi. It makes no sense to me. NZ selectors have this obsession with picking inconsistent players over consistent ones and playing favourites with certain players(Redmond, Neesham both otago - Hesson, McCullum both Otago) its the same reason McCullum became test captain. Ryder has failed as an opener in odis in the past do they have short term memory loss? He's a middle order player in ODIs because he is too risky.

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