Cricket: Ronchi to captain NZ XI against England

Luke Ronchi
Luke Ronchi
Wellington wicketkeeper and former Australia international Luke Ronchi will captain a New Zealand XI to play England in a four-day warm-up match next week.

Ronchi is vying with BJ Watling for the wicketkeeping spot in the three-test ANZ series against England. Watling showed fine form recently in South Africa scoring back-to-back half centuries in New Zealand's second test defeat in Port Elizabeth.

Dannevirke-born Ronchi is the fifth top run-scorer in the Plunket Shield this season, having scored 760 runs at an average of 69.09, including four centuries.

The New Zealand XI includes eight players who have played for the Black Caps but also reflects the next generation of New Zealand cricket, said national selection manager Kim Littlejohn.

"This game gives us a great opportunity to see how these youngsters cope with playing a test side ranked at two in the world," he said.

Northern Knights leg spinner Ish Sodhi is one for the future. The 20-year-old was one of the top bowlers at last year's under-19 World Cup and he has been in great form during this season's Plunket Shield four-day competition.

"This game will give Ish an opportunity to gain some valuable experience and see what's needed for his game to go to the next level," said Littlejohn.

Littlejohn said many among the group had been in fine form in the domestic competition, in particular Carl Cachopa for the Central Stags. The South African-born batsman has been averaging in the 50s in Plunket Shield matches this season.

The four-day warm-up match starts on Wednesday, February 27 at the Queenstown Events Centre.

One more player may be added to the team closer to the match.

New Zealand XI squad:

Luke Ronchi (c) - Wellington Firebirds, Corey Anderson - Northern Knights, Neil Broom - Otago Volts, Dean Brownlie - Canterbury Wizards, Carl Cachopa - Central Stags, Mark Gillespie - Wellington Firebirds, Tom Latham - Canterbury Wizards, James Neesham - Otago Volts, Hamish Rutherford - Otago Volts, Ish Sodhi - Northern Knights, Neil Wagner - Otago Volts.