Luke Ronchi, Martin Guptill earn Black Caps recalls

By David Leggat

Martin Guptill regains his opening spot for the Black Caps after overcoming his hamstring strain. Photo / Photosport
Martin Guptill regains his opening spot for the Black Caps after overcoming his hamstring strain. Photo / Photosport

Luke Ronchi is back in international cricket, with the accolade of New Zealand's best white-ball gloveman ringing in his ears.

The Wellington veteran might afford himself a small smile at that description from national selector Gavin Larsen, having been dropped in December for the Chappell-Hadlee series in Australia.

Having recovered from a back injury picked up against Bangladesh in Mt Maunganui last month, Ronchi has bounced back with good form for Wellington in the Ford Trophy - notably 63 in the playoff loss to Canterbury on Saturday.

"He's recovered 100 per cent and put some really good performances on the board for Wellington and we deem him to be our frontline white ball wicketkeeper," Larsen said yesterday after three squads to face South Africa this week were named.

Opener Tom Latham kept handily in the Chappell-Hadlee games at Eden Park and Hamilton, and remains what Larsen called "a strong ongoing option with the gloves".

The two players dropped for the first two ODIs against South Africa from the Chappell-Hadlee decider in Hamilton last weekend are Colin Munro, whose form has been patchy, and stand-in opener Dean Brownlie, who made a valuable 63 in the Seddon Park match against Australia.

Larsen acknowledged sorting the Larsen-Brownlie opening conundrum had been "an incredibly tough call", once Martin Guptill proved he's over from his hamstring strain.

Latham scored 137 against Bangladesh in Christchurch on Boxing Day but since then, it's been 22, 4, 7, 0. Still, the selectors want him in at the top.

"It was a marvellous innings [Brownlie's 63] but he was playing a holding role for Guppy. We believe we have our openers and see them as a long term ODI opening combination, but Deano has certainly proved he's got what it takes."

One player who should benefit from Munro's dropping is Jimmy Neesham, likely to get an opportunity at No 6 against South Africa. He did well at No 4 in Australia before Christmas, filling in for Ross Taylor.

Neesham's bowling is a work in progress but Larsen is seeing encouraging signs. With Corey Anderson still unable to bowl due to back issues, Larsen confirmed Neesham is rated ahead of Anderson for a one-day spot.

Anderson is in the T20 squad, which has a good look to it, although Taylor's backers will insist he should be in there. The selectors' view is that Anderson, Munro and Tom Bruce all played thunderous innings against Bangladesh in that T20 series batting around Taylor's spot, and are ranked ahead of the veteran in that form.

The squad for tomorrow's warm-up game against the South Africans at Eden Park is a chance to showcase some younger talent, and Auckland pair, opener Glenn Phillips and Mark Chapman, have a big opportunity, if selected in the XI.

But the most cheering news is the return of speedster Adam Milne, who hasn't been sighted in domestic cricket this season as his dreadful run of injury setbacks continues.

He's fit again and Larsen is delighted: "Having him back is tremendous. He's been a long time off the park and we know what he offers when he's operating at 100 per cent."

- NZ Herald

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