30 May 2015

Ronchi stars in New Zealand revival

6:33 pm on 30 May 2015

The former Australia batsman Luke Ronchi took to Test cricket like a duck to water with a brilliant 88 off 70 balls on New Zealand Test debut to help the Black Caps' recovery against England in the second match in Leeds.

The Black Caps wicketkeeper/batsman Luke Ronchi sweeps England's Moeen Ali for six during the second test at Headingley.

The Black Caps wicketkeeper/batsman Luke Ronchi sweeps England's Moeen Ali for six during the second test at Headingley. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

34-year-old Ronchi, who played four one-dayers and three Twenty20 games for Australia, smashed three sixes and 13 fours as New Zealand recovered from a poor start to post 297 for eight in rapid time on a rain-disrupted first day at Headingley.

He looked like a Test veteran too, timing the ball beautifully and sharing a sixth-wicket partnership of 120 with Tom Latham which gave New Zealand the initiative after they had slumped to two for two.

"I've dreamed of playing test cricket for as long as I've known the game," Ronchi said. "It's late in my career but it's still pretty cool. I've had a decent first day."

"I wouldn't play the innings any differently. I can't complain. I got 88 and am more than happy with that."

England, buoyed by their thrilling 124-run win in the first test at Lord's, started superbly as James Anderson claimed two early wickets, including his 400th in tests, but they dropped Latham three times in a sloppy fielding display.

"The game's moving forward, it's not a shock that they scored as they did," Anderson said. "When we didn't bowl well they punished us. We've seen a bit of movement off the pitch, but if you get in on it you can score quite freely.

"We've seen Test cricket move forward with New Zealand scoring at such a rate, Australia are going to be aggressive when they come over here and we're looking to play that same sort of cricket and fight fire with fire when it comes to that."

Ronchi, the first player with the first name Luke to play test cricket, also became the first man since Kepler Wessels nearly 20 years ago to represent two full International Cricket Council member countries.

The wicketkeeper played 49 one-day internationals before earning his test debut for the Black Caps as a replacement for the injured Corey Anderson, with regular keeper BJ Watling named in the side as a specialist batsman only due to injury.

"I was trying to enjoy it as much as I could," said Ronchi. "It could be my one and only Test - I'd have hated to go out there and not play my natural game."

"I can't complain with 88, I'm more than happy with that, although you always want more."

The match started two and a half hours late due to rain.

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