The New Zealand-born Luke Ronchi was just 20 when he moved to Australia and began to ply his trade as a sharp wicketkeeper with good hitting abilities for Western Australia. He took the domestic stage by scruff of its neck, scoring the fastest century off 56 balls. A 49-ball 89 against England XI and a 51-ball century against Queensland followed, and yet, cricket wasn't about first impressions.
In 2008, at 27, Ronchi got a chance to don the Australian colours but this joy was short-lived for him. To be precise, he lasted just four games before his form plummeted to new lows and he was pushed down the pecking order by domestic performers like Matthew Wade, Graham Manou and Tim Paine as back-up option to Brad Haddin. Incidentally, in his final appearance for Australia, he scored 64 off 28 deliveries -- his only ODI fifty -- in Australia's total of 341 against the West Indies at St. Kitts.
Ronchi's happy memory from the knock against the West Indies faded away soon as he found himself out of the Western Australia side too. Form eluded him for long periods and he even contemplate giving up the sport. He hung around in search of runs till 2011-12 and then took the bold step of moving to his birth nation, New Zealand in search of greener pastures. What followed was more hard work and toil but then national call up finally came around in 2013. From an Australian reject to a New Zealand international, Ronchi's steely resolve and ability to stay determined through this topsy-turvy phase provides great justice to what he is fondly called by his teammates --- Rock.
Yet, his contribution wasn't noteworthy enough for him to consider himself a vital cog of the side. In fact, the chatter within the New Zealand setup was starting to grow as they voiced their concern against his presence in the team.
However, Mike Hesson, the national coach, stuck by him and it proved to be a gamble worth taking. Ronchi guided New Zealand to two back-to-back T20 wins over the West Indies with swashbuckling knocks -- 48 off 29 balls and 51 off 28 balls. Skipper Brendon McCullum was all praise for the 32-year-old who seems to have retained his clean-hitting abilities from the very beginning of his career. His T20 form might just give him an extended stay in the ODI side and an opportunity to face the visiting India side starting on January 19.
The last time some of these Indian cricketers saw or played against Ronchi was perhaps in the first season of the Indian Premier League when he was part of the Mumbai Indians. However, Ronchi has come a long, long way since then and is a completely different player.
Cricket, indeed, is all about second impressions for Luke Ronchi.