Dana Johannsen on sport

Dana Johannsen is a Herald sport writer

Dana Johannsen: Ryder's tale one of unfulfilled potential

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Jesse Ryder has badly damages his chances of playing at international level. Photo / Getty Images
Jesse Ryder has badly damages his chances of playing at international level. Photo / Getty Images

One of the most frustrating things about sport is seeing a supremely talented athlete fail to reach their potential.

Whether it be through injury, personal issues or just a plain lack of commitment and desire, sport is littered with tragic examples of athletes who have never fulfilled their promise. After the events of the past week, it might be time to officially consign Jesse Ryder to those ranks.

He is New Zealand cricket's "if only" man - he could be a truly great player if only he would apply himself more; if only he dropped a few kilos and made an effort with his fitness; if only he would lay off the booze; if only he could get his head sorted.

Despite his ongoing battles with alcohol and a career that has been littered with headline-grabbing off-piste incidents, Ryder has largely had the support of the New Zealand public. There is nothing more seductive in sport than a tale of redemption. Cricket fans desperately wanted to see him succeed - more so than Ryder himself, it would seem. But with each successive incident, the hope we shared that Ryder would eventually get his act together has eroded.

We might now have to accept we may never see the best of Ryder on the cricket pitch and instead hope that he simply gets well.

That is up to Ryder now, for he is not New Zealand Cricket's problem any longer. The national body have done all they can for the troubled batsman - they've tried tough love, they've tried a caring arm around the shoulder, they've given him access to all the support he needs. But after making all the right noises and offering all the necessary platitudes to secure his place back in the national team after a 22-month break, it did not take long for Ryder's focus to fade and murmurings of misbehaviour to begin.

You can only be let down by someone so many times before you wash your hands of them. It is clear from the strong statements made yesterday by NZC's Lindsay Crocker that the management has reached that point. Crocker said Ryder was unmanageable in the team environment and can no longer be trusted.

The most telling thing, though, is when you lose the support of your peers. The team reportedly do not want Ryder around and even his staunchest supporter, long-time manager Aaron Klee, has walked away.

As for Doug Bracewell, we must be careful not to lump him in the same bracket as Ryder. His issue seems to be that he is a recidivist idiot rather than someone battling a serious addiction.

Unlike Ryder, there is still hope for Bracewell, but this incident will need to be a wake-up call for the 23-year-old.

- NZ Herald

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