Australia in the West Indies 2008 July 2, 2008

Ronchi keeps Haddin on his toes

Cricinfo staff


Luke Ronchi has performed well behind the stumps in his first games for Australia © AFP
 

Luke Ronchi is used to his batting making headlines in Australian domestic cricket but in his first outings at international level it has been his glovework that has drawn praise. After the first-choice wicketkeeper Brad Haddin flew home to recuperate from a broken finger following the first ODI Ronchi was guaranteed four games and has impressed in the initial two.

Haddin has been told he does not need surgery on the finger and it should be fully healed in two to three weeks, meaning he will be fit for Australia's three ODIs against Bangladesh in Darwin starting in late August. Ronchi is well aware that however he performs in the Caribbean, Haddin will remain the No. 1 for some time.

"Hads is that good of a player and he hasn't done anything wrong, so I don't think there's any way I'm going to push him out of the spot at all," Ronchi told AAP. "It's just a case for me to play as well as I can when I do play, and if that happens to lead onto more and better things, then hopefully that does happen, but at the moment it's more of a replacement position."

A destructive opening batsman in Western Australia's limited-overs setup, Ronchi has not yet had a chance to bat in his first two ODIs. He is the owner of the fastest hundred in Australia's domestic one-day history and he showed a glimpse of that talent with a dynamic 36 in the Twenty20 international against West Indies in Barbados.

In the 50-over format his work behind the stumps has been excellent and he began his career with a sharp caught-behind first ball before following with three terrific dismissals in his second game. A diving catch was followed by a slick take to an edge off Andrew Symonds' offspin, but perhaps best of all was a brilliant stumping when he was standing up to Nathan Bracken.

The efforts drew praise from the captain Ricky Ponting, who said: "I thought his job behind the stumps in game three was outstanding. We haven't had the chance to see him with the bat yet, but hopefully in the next couple of games we'll get to see that."

The small crowds in the Caribbean and lack of intense media attention might have made his job easier in his first appearances for his country. Ronchi said it had also helped having just come from a stint with Mumbai in the Indian Premier League.

"The big thing out of all of it was the fact I've gone from playing in front of 40 or 50,000 people screaming in India to here, where the crowds aren't massive, so you're actually a whole lot more relaxed," Ronchi said. "The first three to four weeks of the IPL was out of this world. I'd never seen anything like it before in a game of cricket.

"The first game I played, I've walked out to bat and the crowd was so loud, you just couldn't hear anything. And I was shaking as the bowler was running in for the first ball, it was just the most amazing thing."

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