Haddin in doubt with finger injury June 6, 2008

Ronchi joins Australia in West Indies

Cricinfo staff


Luke Ronchi will join the Australian squad as a shadow player for fellow wicketkeeper Brad Haddin © Getty Images
 

Luke Ronchi, the Western Australia wicketkeeper, will fly to the West Indies as a shadow player for Brad Haddin, who is recuperating from a broken finger. Haddin injured the ring finger of his right hand during the first Test in Kingston and carried the problem through the second Test in Antigua, and although he has since then received treatment for the pain it has had limited success.

Haddin is now in serious doubt for the third Test, which starts in Barbados on Thursday. Australia had only one Test wicketkeeper for eight years until January - Adam Gilchrist did not miss a match during his career - and now there is the prospect of them using three Test glovemen within the space of four matches.

Andrew Hilditch, the chairman of selectors, said it was still uncertain how quickly Haddin would recover. "The need for Luke to remain with the squad will be decided as Haddin's fitness becomes clearer," Hilditch said.

"Luke has had a very strong season in all forms of inter-state cricket and performed very well on the Australia A team's tour at the start of the 2007-08 season. He is ready for any opportunity that may present itself and will benefit greatly from his time in the Australian environment in the West Indies."

Ronchi, 27, built his state reputation as a top-order one-day destroyer and his 56-ball century in 2006-07 was the fastest in Australia's domestic one-day history. He has also translated that damaging play to the first-class arena and last season belted a Pura Cup century in 51 balls, taking just 11 deliveries to go from 50 to 100.

He was impressive during Australia A's tour to Pakistan in September last year, scoring 107 in a four-day match against Pakistan A in Lahore, and he made 444 at 40.36 in the Pura Cup in 2007-08. Ronchi also played for the Mumbai Indians in the IPL, and he said aggressive strokeplay was his natural game.

"When you're competitive and you're playing a game you love, it just brings out a different person," Ronchi said in the Sydney Morning Herald. "If I'm just doing my natural thing, that's when it works best."

If he makes his Test debut in Barbados it could be alongside another uncapped player, Beau Casson, and the two men have a history together. "We played our first game for Western Australia together out here and we might play our first Test together, so that will be pretty exciting," Ronchi told AAP. "If I play it's going to be the most amazing thing ever, if I don't just the experience of being amongst all those guys will be fantastic as well.

"I'm not getting too excited about it but if it happens it will be so great. At the moment it's a bit of a surreal sort of thing. It's disappointing for [Haddin] but it might be a little thing for me to get my foot in the door and start an international career."

While Haddin remains in doubt Simon Katich is set to play in Barbados after sitting out much of the Antigua match with a bruised rib. Katich was struck by a Daren Powell bouncer while making 113 in the first innings and did not bat in the second innings, also remaining off the field for most of the time while West Indies batted.

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