Cricket: Ronchi relishes facing old Aussie mates

New Zealand's Luke Ronchi plays a shot during the fifth one-day International cricket match between New Zealand and Sri Lanka in Dunedin at University Oval on Jan 23, 2015. -- PHOTO: AFP
New Zealand's Luke Ronchi plays a shot during the fifth one-day International cricket match between New Zealand and Sri Lanka in Dunedin at University Oval on Jan 23, 2015. -- PHOTO: AFP

AUCKLAND (AFP) - Luke Ronchi is looking forward to the prospect of facing his old Australia team-mates when he dons the gloves for New Zealand in the co-hosts' high-profile World Cup clash in Auckland on Saturday.

"It's the same thing now - I've played with or against pretty much everyone in the Aussie team and some of them I've roomed with at the academy and things like that," Ronchi told Fairfax Media.

"I know them well and to be playing against them - it's a funny feeling but the whole situation is pretty cool. For me especially to be given another chance to play international cricket, and now I get to come up against them in a World Cup match, it's great," the 33-year-old wicketkeeper added.

Born in New Zealand but mainly brought up in Australia, Ronchi played four one-day internationals and three Twenty20s for Australia in 2008-09 before changing allegiance.

Ronchi played with and against such Australia players as Michael Clarke, Shane Watson, Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Marsh.

"The only one in their squad I haven't really played with or against is Pat Cummins," said Ronchi of the young fast bowler. In all 24 players have represented two countries in the three forms of the game, 14 in Tests, nine in one-days and four in T20s.

Eoin Morgan, now England's one-day captain, also started for Ireland while Ed Joyce changed from Ireland to England and then returned back to his native country.

Ronchi, who switched to the country of his birth in 2012, took the field against Australia for the first time in an ultimately rain-marred match at Edgbaston during the 2013 Champions Trophy tournament in England.

"It was pretty odd," admitted Ronchi, who was born in the small North Island town of Dannevirke and moved with his family to Australia when he was seven.

"I didn't know what to expect. When I was keeping there was Adam Voges and Marsh batting together and I made my debut for Western Australia with Vogesy." Having lost his place in the Australian side to the fit-again Brad Haddin, Ronchi decided to try his luck in New Zealand.

"I just thought to myself, 'If I stay then I might regret not having tried. I thought if I go and it works out, then fantastic, and if not, well, at least I've given it a crack," Ronchi explained.

"I didn't want to retire and think I really should have tried that. In the end I just thought, 'Why not?' My wife was keen to have a crack at it, too. And I certainly can't complain with where I am at the moment." Ronchi's whirlwind 170 not out against Sri Lanka in Dunedin last month - the highest score by a New Zealander in a home one-day international - bolstered his World Cup chances.

Meanwhile his unbroken stand of 267 with Grant Elliott in the same match set a new all-time one-day international record for any sixth-wicket partnership.

Ronchi said he always felt like a New Zealander.

"I see myself as a Kiwi. I've always felt that way anyway," he said. "I guess being born here and always for so long I always copped a bit of crap for being from here and stuff. Deep down I've always felt this way."

"But don't get me wrong - when I was in Oz I still wanted to play for Australia." Now Ronchi hopes New Zealand will relish the unusual experience of playing before a sell-out crowd at Eden Park on Saturday.

"Our last game against England in Wellington there was 30,000 and the noise there was awesome," said Ronchi.

"In cricket in New Zealand you don't get crowds like that on a regular basis ... so to get 45,000 is going to be awesome. The noise they'll make is going to be out of this world."

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