Ronchi ready for Bears reunion

Leicestershire Foxes overseas star Luke Ronchi is looking forward to catching up with a few familiar faces at Edgbaston tomorrow – but insists it will be business before pleasure.

Ronchi had a spell at Birmingham Bears last season and enjoyed four happy years playing for New Zealand before announcing his retirement after the ICC Champions Trophy.

He played alongside off-spinner Jeetan Patel for both club and country, and also counts batsman Grant Elliott and all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme among his former teammates.

The trio are currently plying their trade for the Bears, the Foxes' third opponents in this season’s NatWest T20 Blast in Birmingham tomorrow afternoon (2.30pm start).

Ronchi made a superb half-century against Australia in the ICC Champions Trophy at Edgbaston recently so there will be lots of memories when he walks back through the Edgbaston gates.

But the dynamic batsman is experienced enough to take all of the emotion in his stride as the Foxes look to make it a hat-trick of wins in NatWest T20 Blast.

“I am looking forward to the game but the bottom line is that it’s all about trying to get another two points for the Foxes,” said Ronchi.

“There are a lot of Kiwis around this summer so it will be good to see some old friends, including Grant [Elliott], Colin [de Grandhomme] and Jeetan [Patel] when we travel to Birmingham tomorrow.

“As well as being good for the competition, it's also good for the future of New Zealand cricket to have our players involved in a huge tournament like NatWest T20 Blast.

“Some people might get a bit worked up about playing against international teammates but I enjoy it. Yes, you might want to whack your old teammates around and get them out for nothing, but that's the same with all opposition to be fair!

“Cricket is cricket, and I will see guys I have faced before - and played with – throughout my time here but even that may be from some time ago and things change all of the time given the innovation in T20.

“It's all about getting our guys doing what they do best. That was the focus of our first two games, and if we do that, we'll be winning games of cricket, I’m certain of that.”

The Foxes have won two from two with captain Clint McKay leading the way. He took 5-11 in the most recent success at Worcestershire Rapids, the best ever return by a Foxes bowler in the competition, and the seamer has now taken 8 for 40 from his eight overs in the competition to date.

“I was very lucky as other days you bowl nicely and it doesn't quite work out for you,” said McKay. “It's always good to get a few wickets and help contribute to winning games of cricket and the boys played beautifully.

“If we come and play our best game of cricket, then we are going to challenge all of the teams. We weren't quite at our best at Worcestershire but we were very good, close to it, so it's very satisfying to get two wins out of two.

“It’s a very important game tomorrow, it’s now about making sure that we continue to get all of the basics right and keep improving. We know it will be another tough game at Birmingham but we also know what we’re capable of, and we want to make it three from three."

McKay is, unsurpisingly, the leading bowler for the Foxes while Colin Ackermann has scored 109 undefeated runs in his two innings to date.

But it has been a real team effort so far, with all of the squad making contributions with bat, ball and in the field – and that will need to continue at a Bears side that won their first two games and only lost on the last ball against Northants Steelbacks on Friday night.

The Foxes have named an unchanged 14-man squad for the fixture following the first two games of the tournament with Aadil Ali, Rob Sayer and Dieter Klein in contention along with the starting XI that faced Lancashire and Worcestershire.

Foxes (from): McKay (capt), Aadil, Ackermann, Cosgrove, Delport, Eckersley, Griffiths, Hill, Klein, Parkinson, Pillans, Ronchi, Sayer, Wells.

* Thanks to John Mallett for the photo of Luke Ronchi batting at New Road.