Luke ROnchi top scored for New Zealand with 88 © Getty Images
Luke ROnchi top scored for New Zealand with 88 © Getty Images

Luke Ronchi said he was just trying to “enjoy the ride” after his remarkable 88 on his Test debut helped New Zealand fight back against England at Headingley on Friday. The 34-year-old, New Zealand’s wicket-keeper during their run to the World Cup final, was in superb touch as he helped New Zealand recover to 297 for eight at stumps on the first day of the second Test after they’d been two for two, having lost the toss. READ: England on top as New Zealand score 297/8 at Stumps on Day 1 of 2nd Test at Headingley

Ronchi was given his chance when BJ Watling was selected as a batsman only at Headingley after injuring his knee during England’s 124-run first Test win at Lord’s on Monday. And he seized it in style with a dashing 70 ball-knock including 13 fours and three sixes.

Despite Friday’s first session being a total wash-out, New Zealand still scored nearly 300 runs in 65 overs in a match they had to win to level the two-match series. “To make [nearly] 300 on day one in 65 overs is a pretty good effort, especially after being two for two,” Ronchi told reporters.

“For me I’m 34, playing my first Test, just trying to enjoy it as much as I could and enjoy the ride,” added Ronchi, who put on 120 for the sixth wicket with Tom Latham (84). READ: James Anderson reaches 400 wickets: The story of the man who wasn’t there

Ronchi’s free-spirited approach would have come as no surprise to his former team-mates at the Bashley-Rydal club in the New Forest. Ronchi spent three seasons with the Southern League side from 1999 and two years ago, during New Zealand’s last tour of England, former Bashley colleague Neil Taylor said: “He played shots the rest of us could only dream about. I’m not sure how many sixes he hit in those three years, but we must have lost loads of cricket balls –- and dented a few passing cars.”

Ronchi has maintained a similar approach throughout a career that has also seen the Perth-raised player represent Australia in limited overs internationals. He was on course to surpass India star Shikhar Dhawan’s 85-ball record for the quickest century by a Test debutant, set against Australia in Mohail in 2013, when he hooked Stuart Broad to Anderson at fine leg. READ: Looking back at the 116 years of Test cricket at Headingley

“I’ve dreamt of playing Test cricket for as long as I’ve known the game I wanted to make sure I didn’t go out there and not play naturally; it’d be an injustice in my mind. I can’t complain; I got 88 and am more than happy with that,” ,” said Ronchi.

Meanwhile James Anderson said it felt “surreal” to become the first England bowler, and only 12th in history to take 400 Test wickets. Anderson, who started the match on 399 Test wickets, reached the landmark when he had Martin Guptill caught by Ian Bell in the slips for a duck. READ: Cricket needs men like Ben Stokes

And, two balls later, when Anderson had Kane Williamson caught behind, also for nought, New Zealand were two for two. “It’s a nice feeling, a proud moment for me, I guess. It feels a bit surreal when you see the list up on the TV with all the guys who’ve got 400 in the past,” said Anderson.

Anderson added that New Zealand’s counter-attack — which included skipper Brendon McCullum smashing his first ball for six — had come as no surprise to him. “The game’s moving forward, it’s not a shock that they scored as they did. When we didn’t bowl well they punished us,” said Anderson. READ: Ben Stokes rekindles the spirit of Andrew Flintoff

“We’ve seen Test cricket move forward with New Zealand scoring at such a rate, Australia are going to be aggressive when they come over here and we’re looking to play that same sort of cricket and fight fire with fire,” he added.