Black Caps set to add new coach, surprise players to World Cup squad

Author
NZ Herald ,
Section
Cricket,
Publish Date
Tuesday, 2 April 2019, 6:56PM
Luke Ronchi is a former Black Caps wicketkeeper. (Photo / NZ Herald)
Luke Ronchi is a former Black Caps wicketkeeper. (Photo / NZ Herald)

The Black Caps are set to give their coaching staff a boost ahead of the Cricket World Cup.

The Herald understands that former Black Caps wicketkeeper Luke Ronchi will be joining the New Zealand setup as a fielding coach for the tournament.

Ronchi retired from international cricket in 2017, and has since enhanced his reputation as one of the world's best Twenty20 freelancers, having most recently played in the Pakistan Super League.

The 37-year-old was part of the Black Caps squad as a player in the 2015 World Cup, but is now set to link up with the coaching staff to provide his expertise in the United Kingdom.

It is believed that Ronchi will join head coach Gary Stead, batting coach Craig McMillan, bowling coach Shane Jurgensen and strength and conditioning coach Chris Donaldson in forming the core of the coaching staff that will support the 15-man squad as they strive for glory at the World Cup, which starts in late May.

The Black Caps have regularly called upon specialist coaches in the past to add value to the current coaching group, with Jimmy Pamment and Heinrich Malan both part of the coaching group for the one-day series against India to help out with fielding training.

Pamment is currently working in the Indian Premier League as fielding coach for the Mumbai Indians, while Malan stepped down as Central Districts head coach at the end of the domestic season, leading to speculation that he could replace McMillan, who is moving on from the national side after the World Cup.

Ronchi's input could have extra value for the wicketkeepers in the World Cup squad, with the expected selections of Tom Latham and Tom Blundell indicating the importance of glovework for this group.

While Latham will likely play in every game at the Cup if fit, the emergence of Blundell as a World Cup option, despite an unflattering domestic record with the bat, suggests that his supposedly superior glovework is the reason he is set to get the nod over the likes of Tim Seifert.

Fielding as a whole will also continue to be a priority for the Black Caps. Usually sure-handed in the field, there were several sloppy performances over the summer, with too many chances going to ground for Stead's liking.

With Ronchi set to lend his experience, the Black Caps will be hoping that fewer chances go begging as they set their sights on bringing home the Cup.

Ish Sodhi has edged Todd Astle for the second spinning spot. Photos / Photosport and Getty

Ish Sodhi has edged Todd Astle for the second spinning spot. Photos / Photosport and Getty

The Herald also understands that Ish Sodhi and Tom Blundell will be named amongst the World Cup squad tomorrow morning.

In one of the more debated selections, Sodhi has beaten Todd Astle in their competition for the second spinning spot alongside Mitchell Santner, while Blundell has come from nowhere to take the back-up wicketkeeping role behind Tom Latham.

While displaced by Henry Nicholls as Martin Guptill's opening partner, Colin Munro will travel as a back-up batsman and part-time medium pace option, while Colin de Grandhomme and Jimmy Neesham will join Santner as the all-rounders in the squad.

Matt Henry and Lockie Ferguson's strong summers with the ball will see them join the experienced pair of Tim Southee and Trent Boult as the Black Caps' premier seam options in the UK, with Doug Bracewell missing out and Adam Milne plagued by injuries.

Most of the decisions would have been made easy for the selectors after the Black Caps played 14 ODIs over the summer, but the debates over the merits of Sodhi and Blundell's inclusions would have been lengthy between coach Gary Stead, selector Gavin Larsen, and captain Kane Williamson.