New Zealand’s Ronchi in run as Neesham replacement

Perth, Nov 10 (IANS) New Zealand wicketkeeper-batsman Luke Ronchi will be among a host of candidates to replace injured allrounder Jimmy Neesham in the second cricket Test against Australia here.

Neesham was ruled out of the series with a back problem on the final morning of the series opener in Brisbane. The 25-year-old filled the dual role of No.6 batsman and fourth seamer in the Kiwis’ first Test defeat.

But without a like-for-like replacement, the tourists will instead consider alternative scenarios, including calling in former Western Australia player Ronchi, who debuted at Headingley earlier this year in similar circumstances, reported on Tuesday.

Then, the 34-year-old came in for Corey Anderson, who was ruled out of the Australian tour with a back injury of his own last month, and shone on debut with a stunning 70-ball 88 in the first innings — the fastest Test fifty ever seen at Headingley — and 31 in the second innings as New Zealand squared the two-match series with a comprehensive 199-run win.

And with no current New Zealander having played a Test at the WACA, Ronchi’s experience as a former Warriors regular could be a sought-after attribute ahead of the do-or-die match for the Kiwis.

Ronchi played 30 first-class matches on the unique WACA surface, averaging 31.56 as a keeper-batsman with two centuries and eight fifties. The right-hander would be more likely to come into calculations if Tim Southee is proved fit beyond any doubt, allowing the Black Caps to rely on their spearhead as opposed to considering an extra pace option — namely Matt Henry, or even potentially back-ups Mitchell McClenaghan or Neil Wagner — instead.

“If (Southee) is 100 per cent fit, then (three quicks only is) something we’ve got to entertain the thought of, as we did at Leeds,” Mccullum said.

“But if he is a little bit uncertain then we may have to bolster the stocks. I’m expecting Tim will be available. He’s hard as nails, Timmy, and if he is anywhere near fit then he’ll play. He’s started to come right pretty quickly, which is a good sign. We’ll give him every chance.

“He’s one of our leaders within the group, he’s an outstanding bowler, and he showed within that first innings that he’ll pose a lot of questions as well.”


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