Preview: Leicestershire Foxes v Birmingham Bears, NatWest T20 Blast

Luke Ronchi has outlined his desire to leave Birmingham Bears top of the NatWest T20 Blast table when his stint as overseas player comes to an end next week.

The big-hitting New Zealander has just two games left for the Bears, away to Leicestershire Foxes tomorrow night and then a farewell home appearance against Northamptonshire next Friday.

Ronchi’s stay in Birmingham will end earlier then planned following his selection in the Black Caps’ squad for their tour of Zimbabwe and South Africa.

The Bears lost no time in bringing in an eye-catching replacement with Australian star Matthew Wade recruited for the final six group games – and Ronchi intends his successor to be joining a team at the summit of the North Group.

“We have good momentum in T20 and I’ll be doing everything I can to help keep that going in the two big games I have got left for the Bears,” he said. “I want to leave the guys top of the table.

“They are pretty busy at the moment with four-day cricket resuming as well but if we can keep that T20 momentum going and continue to play the good cricket we have been playing then we will be pretty close to the top and that would be really nice.

“You just want to win games of cricket, whatever the format and whoever the opposition. We have made a strong start in the T20 but it’s quite a long group stage so we have to keep it going.”

Ronchi will line up against the Foxes tomorrow fresh from making a match-winning contribution in the Bears’ last Blast outing, the 18-run victory (D/L) over Lancashire Lightning at Edgbaston last Sunday.

His blistering 35-ball 53, with four sixes and three fours, was exactly the sort of explosive middle-order barrage he was hired to deliver and was clearly the decisive factor in a game in which only one of the other 16 batsmen to get in reached 20.

Next up it is Leicestershire Foxes and the Fischer County Ground where, playing for New Zealand in a 50-over friendly last year, Ronchi smashed an unbeaten 106 from just 76 balls.

“Until the Lancashire game last Sunday the innings I had had so far for the Bears had all been pretty similar in that they were either finishing an innings or giving late impetus,” said the 35-year-old. “So it was good to make a bigger contribution because it always feels good to really help the team win.

“Now hopefully we can keep the momentum going at Leicester. I played there for New Zealand last year and it was a good wicket and I enjoyed myself it so hopefully the same can happen again this time.”

Birmingham Bears Squad

  • Ian Bell (Captain)
  • Mark Adair
  • Rikki Clarke
  • Laurie Evans
  • Recordo Gordon
  • Sam Hain
  • Oliver Hannon-Dalby
  • Ateeq Javid
  • Jeetan Patel
  • William Porterfield
  • Josh Poysden
  • Luke Ronchi (Wicket-Keeper)
  • Aaron Thomason