21 Nov 2014

Where to now for Jesse Ryder?

12:58 pm on 21 November 2014

Jesse Ryder's journey to redemption with the Black Caps is over before it even began.

New Zealand cricketer Jesse Ryder

Jesse Ryder has pulled out of New Zealand's upcoming tour to the UAE, citing personal reasons. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Ryder has withdrawn from the New Zealand A tour to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a tour which was supposed to re-launch his Black Caps career.

He may well have been cut some slack for his latest off-field issues had it not been for his track record.

Withdrawing from the tour means Ryder's shot at redemption and a place in the Black Caps World Cup squad is seemingly all but over.

Jesse Ryder could provide the Black Caps with firepower at the top of the batting order.

Ryder could provide the Black Caps with firepower at the top of the batting order. Photo: Photosport

He pulled out citing personal reasons, on the back of a social golf day with his Otago team-mates.

It seems the end of a personal relationship has tipped him over the edge… again.

His battle with alcohol has been ongoing, although Ryder does not seem to think he has an issue.

The surprise is that he never even made it on the UAE tour at all, having only a few weeks ago expressed his desire to be part of the campaign.

Will Hesson and McCullum roll the dice?

Picking Ryder for the World Cup would improve the Black Caps' prospects but his ongoing inclusion could ultimately be detrimental to the side.

He adds firepower at the top of the batting order and would resolve a headache for coach Mike Hesson as he searches for a permanent opening combination.

He also provides another bowling option.

The problem, however, is Ryder's not a team player in the truest sense. Coping with that trait might be workable in the short-term but long-term it's untenable.

Hesson and Black Caps skipper Brendon McCullum know this and having Ryder back in the Black Caps, unless he undergoes a remarkable transformation, is not a scenario they want.

Do national selection manager Bruce Edgar (left) and coach Mike Hesson gamble on picking Ryder?

Do national selection manager Bruce Edgar (left) and coach Mike Hesson gamble on picking Ryder? Photo: Photosport

Tension with team-mates since February

Having Ryder in the line-up may make the bean counters rub their hands together at the thought of bringing more punters to the ground, but it doesn't engender the same sense of anticipation for his team-mates.

Ryder has been on the outer since February when he and Black Caps team-mate Doug Bracewell went out drinking the night before a Test against India.

The Black Caps won the Test with McCullum scoring a double century.

But, rather than a Test win dominating the sports headlines, it was Ryder's night on the town which was front page news.

That was the last straw. Not necessarily for New Zealand Cricket's hierarchy but the team. Ryder had burnt one bridge too many.

McCullum has engendered a strong team culture since taking over the captaincy in difficult circumstances.

Those players have become very loyal and seeing their skipper fail to receive the public adulation due him rankled.

It rankled even more that it had come about because of the actions of one of their own.

Part of the problem is that Ryder simply doesn't understand that.

It's not malicious or a deliberate decision to go against team rules, protocols or whatever understandings might be in place. It's just that his judgement is not what it could be.

Jesse Ryder in action for Essex

Jesse Ryder in action for English county side Essex Photo: PHOTOSPORT

He scored runs and took wickets aplenty while playing for English county side Essex but by all accounts still enjoyed his time off the field too.

Things it seems haven't changed for the 30-year-old.

Initial squad selection due in December

New Zealand Cricket didn't intend imposing an alcohol ban on Ryder, saying the players are adults and expected to behave responsibly.

Otago Cricket has taken the same stance.

Ryder, though, has shown he struggles to act responsibly. Maybe an alcohol ban is the way to go if New Zealand Cricket is serious about wanting Ryder back.

An initial World Cup squad of 30 will be named next month. If Ryder had come through the UAE tour unscathed, a place in that 30 was on the cards.

The actual playing squad of 15 is due to be named early in the New Year.

Not picking him now seems the only option for New Zealand Cricket though, given they wanted to see proof from Ryder that he could cope in an international team environment.

McCullum's willingness to take a gamble is well known. Who knows - maybe he'll roll the dice one more time on Ryder.

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