It didn't take long for Jesse Ryder to reaffirm his value to New Zealand cricket but it's not yet clear whether he will make himself available to play for the national side this summer.
Ryder made 117 not out for Wellington yesterday after starting the day at 84 not out. His innings ensured the Firebirds reached 340 in their first innings and are still in their contest with Central Districts in Napier. Central finished the third day on 223 for six, to hold a 266-run lead with four wickets in hand.
Ryder's innings came from 113 balls and included 13 fours, and was a continuation of the strong form he showed for Wellington in pre-season.
It was the 28-year-old's first innings at first-class level since he decided to take an indefinite break from cricket in March, and considerable interest centres around whether he will return to the international game for either the tour of South Africa or the home series against England.
"He just wants to keep his head down at the moment," his manager Aaron Klee said. "He just wants to do what he's doing and not get sidetracked by anything else.
"We will see what happens."
An in-form and motivated Ryder who is in the right head space is an automatic selection for New Zealand in all three forms of the game. He has averaged 40.93 in his 18 tests - the only member of the current squad to average over 40 is captain Ross Taylor (42.60) - and is a useful medium pace bowler. Ryder has the ability to turn a game with his aggressive style but has also courted more than his fair share of trouble.
He was ousted from the New Zealand side in February for breaking the team's alcohol protocol and it prompted him to take an indefinite break from the game. He's presently not contracted to New Zealand Cricket, although he has a contract with Wellington.
Ryder could become a key figure in tomorrow's final day. The game is well poised but Wellington will want to wrap up Central's second innings early with Doug Bracewell (34) and Will Young at the crease (14).
Otago took maximum points from their match with Canterbury in Rangiora, thanks to former New Zealand opener Aaron Redmond who notched his second century of the match. Set 267 to win the match, Otago cruised to total for the loss of only two wickets.
Redmond followed up his first innings of 133 with an impressive knock of 123. He brought up his century in 163 balls and his innings included 12 fours and three sixes as he put on 164 for the second wicket with Michael Bracewell (88 not out).