Andrew Alderson

Andrew Alderson is a sport writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Ryder says thanks to supporters

Jesse Ryder won't be back on the pitch for a while after his lung sustained serious damage. Photo / Getty Images
Jesse Ryder won't be back on the pitch for a while after his lung sustained serious damage. Photo / Getty Images

Bashed cricket star Jesse Ryder has today thanked fans, family and friends for all their support while he was in crtitical condition over the last three days.

Ryder was moved out of the intensive care unit at Christchurch Hospital this afternoon and is now in a stable condition in a ward.

"I just want to let everyone know that I'm ok," Ryder said in a written statement.

"I feel heaps better today but still really tired. I've been reading your messages that have been sent so thank you to everyone for thinking of me over the last few days.

"I want to thank everyone who has been caring for me at the hospital - they have been awesome. Thank you to my family and friends who have been here also."

A hospital spokesman says Jesse is continuing to improve and is now well enough to be out of ICU.

He says there is no word at this stage whether his doctors and family want him to be transferred to Wellington Hospital.

Just moments after making an Easter resurrection from his near-fatal beating, Ryder was pleading with the nurses in Christchurch Hospital.

"Tell them to get me out of here," were some of the first words he uttered when he woke from a coma and learned where he was and his welfare was worrying thousands of Kiwis.

His manager and mate Aaron Klee said the plea was light-hearted, but great for the family to hear: "He's been quite cheeky. We've had some giggles this afternoon, mainly one-word-type conversations. I've told him he's one of the most talked-about people in New Zealand."

The burly 28-year-old told family he hoped to make a return to top-flight cricket once his punctured lung and other injuries had healed.

Klee said Ryder was aware he had been robbed of potentially half a million dollars of income in the next six months by the attack. "He asked me about cricket but I just said to him, 'It's going to be a while before you are playing cricket, mate'."

It was still a remarkable turnaround for the batsman, who sustained such awful injuries after being kinghit from behind, and having his chest kicked in, that, one teammate said, his head "looked like the elephant man, it was spewing blood".

Ryder was still dazed and confused as he emerged from 36 hours in an induced coma, but delighted to see his partner Ally and mother Heather there.

"It's not like in the movies when they wake up peacefully and give everyone a big hug. It takes a while," said Klee. "It was emotional for those of us that were there to see it. It happened quite quickly once they started changing the levels of the drugs. Just to see him wake up and acknowledge that you're there and start asking for people. He's been under a lot of drugs in his coma, with a pipe down his throat as well, so I think he's pretty uncomfortable. He's not on solid food."

But yesterday Klee said the same determination that had kept Ryder in the game would see him overcome the injuries. "There is an internal drive in Jesse that I have never been able to figure out," he said.

Ryder's injuries were contained mainly to his head and lungs. He had not suffered brain damage and Klee described the skull fracture as "like a very bad concussion".

"There's been quite a bit of damage to his lungs though. That's been the toughest part, that's what they've been most concerned about." Asked if Ryder would ever return to cricket, Klee said: "I hope so. Who knows? ... I'm pretty sure that there's a drive within Jesse that will get him back if he can."

Klee said Ryder's overseas contract and loss of salary was "the least of our worries at the moment".

Apart from his much-publicised $300,000 Indian Premier League contract with the Delhi Daredevils, there was income from other T20 leagues, another potential boxing bout in June and future domestic contracts with Wellington.

As a mark of respect, Ryder's Wellington Firebirds have cancelled their end-of-season dinner.

Chief executive Peter Clinton said team protocols around drinking had been met on the night Ryder received his injuries. "We'll have to wait and see what form of support Cricket Wellington can provide but we want to ensure he and his family are well supported and comfortable."

Meanwhile, prominent Christchurch defence lawyer Kerry Cook is understood to be defending at least one of the alleged attackers. He was seen arriving at the Christchurch Central Police Station with a client on Friday. At a press conference just over an hour later it was revealed police were interviewing a second man. When contacted yesterday, Cook refused to confirm which of the men he was representing.

The 20-year-old and 37-year-old relatives will appear in court on Thursday when they will face assault charges.

Player's Association boss Heath Mills said. "It didn't look good on that first day so to get to where we are now is amazing news."

RYDER'S FULL MESSAGE:

"I just want to let everyone know that I'm okay. I feel heaps better today but still really tired. I've been reading your messages that have been sent so thank you to everyone for thinking of me over the last few days.

"I want to thank everyone who has been caring for me at the hospital - they have been awesome. Thank you to my family and friends who have been here also."

- Herald on Sunday

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