The Luke Ronchi Conundrum

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New Zealand wicket-keeper batsman Luke Ronchi will miss up to six weeks of cricket after suffering a groin injury in a clash against Bangladesh.

It continues a sorry trend for Ronchi at the international level in the past year, and in many ways it goes against the script. Ronchi was once a sure pick for New Zealand, but that is far from the case anymore.

Prior to the World Cup in 2015, Ronchi was a superstar for New Zealand with the bat at the end of an innings. With a strike rate of 113 in One Day Internationals, Ronchi didn’t have the flashest average. However, his hitting power has regularly pulled New Zealand out of difficult situations, especially in the final ten overs of innings.

But since returning to New Zealand on Boxing Day, Ronchi has scored just 42 runs. In his last outing, Ronchi was promoted to opener and was dismissed facing his first ball.

Luke Ronchi: A Double International

Ronchi, 35, is a double-international and has represented both New Zealand and Australia. Making his debut on the big stage back in 2008, Ronchi was representing Australia at age 25, playing a T20 against West Indies.

A year or so later, Ronchi decided to return to New Zealand and made an immediate impact in First-Class cricket.

When Ronchi became eligible to represent New Zealand, it didn’t take long until he was thrust into the Test squad. There were a number of reasons for this, but the Blackcaps were looking for the ideal wicket-keeper/batsman replacement for Brendon McCullum. It was a duel between Ronchi and BJ Watling, a battle that Watling would go on to win when all was said in done.

Fast forward to 2017, and Ronchi finds himself back representing New Zealand, given another chance by coach Mike Hesson, in the shorter form of the game. But is Ronchi really the specialist One Day cricketer in the eyes of Hesson? His form since making that return in late December suggests not.

What Is The Future For Luke Ronchi?

Ronchi will miss the upcoming three match ODI series against Australia, and likely the following series against South Africa as well. Ronchi’s next chance could be in the Champions Trophy in June.

Tom Blundell has been called into the New Zealand squad in the interim, but his presence is likely to be a short one. Blundell has starred for the Wellington Firebirds during the recent McDonalds Super Smash, but he has no experience whatsoever in International cricket.

BJ Watling is the likely contender to return to the One Day squad for the rest of the home summer. Watling has played 27 One Day Internationals with an average of 24, he can open the batting or slot in the middle order. In terms of experience as a wicket keeper, Watling is the best pick in terms of experience.

But for Ronchi’s place in the New Zealand squad going forward, he will need to find form and find it fast when the time does come around again.