Western Australian wicketkeeper Luke Ronchi will pursue a career in New Zealand in a bid to win a place in their national side. Ronchi has told his Western Australia team-mates of his decision and he will finish his commitments with the Warriors this summer before heading to New Zealand next season.
Ronchi, 30, played four one-day internationals and three Twenty20s for Australia in 2008 and 2009 when he was second in line to Brad Haddin, but he lost his place in the state side towards the end of 2008-09. He has struggled to hold down his Sheffield Shield spot since then, although he has made two Ryobi Cup hundreds this season.
In the national setup, Ronchi has been overtaken by Matthew Wade and Tim Paine, and probably others like Peter Nevill, and his chances of further games for Australia were slim. Ronchi will qualify to play for New Zealand having been born there, although his family moved to Perth when he was six years old.
Under the ICC's qualification rules, Ronchi will be eligible to play for New Zealand next January, having last played for Australia in January 2009. The ICC condition states: "Where a male player is seeking to qualify to play for a Full Member, he must not have participated in an international match for any other Full Member during the immediately preceding four years."
Ronchi may yet be able to play for the Perth Scorchers squad at the Champions League Twenty20 later this year as the tournament will be held before New Zealand's domestic season begins. Ronchi said he knew the move was a risk but he felt it was his best chance to play international cricket again.
"I am heading across the Tasman with no guarantees but at 30 years of age I feel that I still have a lot to offer at the very highest level and I am looking forward to making the move with my family," Ronchi said. "I have been around so many outstanding players, coaches and administration staff in my time at the WACA and I can't thank them enough for the support they have provided to me over the past decade."
Ronchi has chosen a good time to push his case, with New Zealand having sifted through five wicketkeepers in all formats over the past two years. Gareth Hopkins and Reece Young have both been tried and discarded, while Brendon McCullum no longer takes the gloves in Test cricket.
BJ Watling was behind the stumps in New Zealand's last Test, while the South African-born gloveman Kruger van Wyk was also in the squad for the Test against Zimbabwe. But Ronchi will need to prove himself in New Zealand's domestic cricket before he will be considered for higher duties, and having not scored a first-class century since 2009-10, his chances might be more likely in limited-overs cricket.
A powerful striker, Ronchi scored what was then the fastest century in Australian domestic one-day history in 2006-07 when he reached triple figures in 56 balls against New South Wales. In a first-class game the following summer he struck a 51-ball ton against Queensland, his second fifty coming in a remarkable 11 deliveries, and his 22-ball fifty in St Kitts in 2008 was then the equal third-fastest half-century by an Australian in an ODI.