Reason: Is Luke Ronchi NZ's answer? ... Maybe

MARK REASON
Last updated 05:00 08/01/2014
Luke Ronchi
GARETH COPLEY/ Getty
GLOVE MAN: Luke Ronchi.

Relevant offers

Opinion

Gifford: Cyclists deserve their golden moment Bidwell: Aussies needed until we develop talent Snook: Supporting cast key to team's success Gifford: Games about more than just nostalgia Knowler: Sharks far from toothless on the road Reason: Ah, the warmth of Hoylake memories Mehrtens: Crusaders get a shot at redemption Dean: 'A gutsy and impressive ride' from Bauer Webster: Wayne Bennett puts legacy on line Plumb: Commonwealth Games in identity crisis

OPINION: Someone once said that wicketkeepers were like the drummer in a rock band, a few metres back from centre stage, the slightly odd guy who keeps the beat but doesn't sing the song.

Then Adam Gilchrist blew up his drum kit and grabbed the microphone.

In one-day cricket the wicketkeeper became the main man.

Suddenly Charlie Watts was the star of the show.

Since Brendon McCullum's miserably painful back made him give up the gloves, New Zealand have been looking for another drummer.

BJ Watling has done a fine job for the test team, but the Black Caps have yet to find an 'Animal' to thrash about in one-day cricket.

Getting the wicketkeeper right may prove to be the biggest task of Mike Hesson's coaching career.

It may even be the key to winning next year's World Cup.

Modern finals have been dominated not by the strutting Kevin Pietersens of this world, a would-be rock star if ever there were one, but by the wicketkeepers.

In the 50 over version of the game, the wicketkeepers have dominated the finals.

In 1999 Gilchrist top scored.

Four years later Gilchrist and Rahul Dravid (then keeping wicket) averaged 50 between them in the final.

In 2007 Gilchrist smashed Australia to victory with 140 off 104 balls, too much for Sri Lanka once Kumar Sangakarra was out for 54.

Three years ago Sangakarra made 48 in the final and was the third highest run-scorer in the tournament, but MS Dhoni became man-of-the-match for his brilliantly paced 91 not out and his courageous decision to move up the order.

In Twenty20 the little man has top scored in two of the previous three finals, with Sangakarra again featuring and Craig Kieswetter making the difference for England.

It is a trend that has happened just too often for it to be merely a statistical coincidence.

There are a couple of reasons why this may have become the case, although I would love to hear some more theories from the Beige Brigade.

Firstly wicketkeepers do not tend to be big men like Pietersen.

They tend to be compact, good pullers and cutters who can score runs all over the field.

The second, and perhaps more important reason, is that they spend half the match behind the stumps trying to read the flight of the ball.

They must be more likely to pick up the slower ball, and all the other variations, a beat quicker than most batsmen.

The keeper is the master of disguise.

At the moment Hesson has invested his hopes in Luke Ronchi, but time is running out.

Ad Feedback

Ronchi is 32, a cricketer who did remarkable things in the one-day game during a three year span from 2006-08.

All that is now a long time ago.

Kyle Mills said: "We had a lot of faith in him as a cricketer because he's a very skilful cricketer. Maybe he's found a spot there in the middle order."

Maybe.

That is the word that fills Ronchi's head at the moment and it is not a good space for a cricketer to occupy.

They need definitely not maybe.

But there is a solution out there.

McCullum's one-day international record on the slow tracks of the subcontinent is not good.

In fact it is dreadful.

Hesson says of McCullum: "We're unlikely to use him as a keeper. He's too valuable a player for us to consider using him as a keeper."

This is moonshine.

The evidence is that the keeper is the MVP of one-day cricket.

The evidence is also that McCullum is little threat in places like Bangladesh where this year's World T20 is to be played.

So why not tell Ronchi that he will star in the bash-fest.

Give him confidence.

Give him a role.

I am not sure I would even want to waste the skipper's time in Dhaka.

But I would want McCullum for one last hurrah behind the stumps next year when the World Cup is played in New Zealand and Australia.

On home soil, with the ball coming on a bit, McCullum can destroy opposition bowling attacks.

He now may also have the maturity to mix construction with destruction as Sangakkara, Dhoni and AB de Villiers are so adept at doing.

The keeper is often a singular man.

Gilchrist was a walker when he edged the ball, much to the chagrin of his team-mates - assuming Aussies do chagrin.

Dhoni united India, an almost impossible task.

And my memory of Sangakarra goes back to the dreadful day five years ago when terrorists attacked the Sri Lanka bus in Pakistan.

I was in the Telegraph offices that day.

The Sunday editor rang Sangakarra's phone.

There followed a vivid and composed account of the ambush.

"For some reason I moved my head to get a better view and a split second later I felt a bullet fizz past my ear into the vacant seat. Fortunately, as a team, we remained quite calm. No-one panicked. After what must have been two minutes standing still we urged the driver to make a run for the stadium just a few hundred metres away: 'Go, go, go' we shouted. We owe our lives to Mohammad Khalil, the driver. The tyres of the bus had been shot out and he was in great danger, exposed to gunfire at the front of the bus. But he was hellbent on getting us to safety and, somehow, he got us moving again. Had he not acted with such courage and presence of mind in the face of incredible danger, most of us would have been dead."

I couldn't help wondering at the time, if the driver had been hit, who would have taken over at the wheel of the bus.

- Fairfax Media

Comments

Special offers
Opinion poll

How excited are you about the Glasgow Commonwealth Games?

I can't wait. Sleep is overrated

I love sport so I'll be watching

I've got little more than a passing interest

I couldn't be less excited. The Games have had their day

Vote Result

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content