Cricket: Jesse's new game plan

By David Leggat

Jesse Ryder has been successful in the Indian Premier League, but is taking a cautious approach to returning to playing top-level cricket for New Zealand. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Jesse Ryder has been successful in the Indian Premier League, but is taking a cautious approach to returning to playing top-level cricket for New Zealand. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Jesse Ryder will return to the New Zealand team - the tricky part is figuring out when.

Having opted not to seek a New Zealand Cricket contract this year, the talented but troubled lefthander has his sights on sorting out his life, says his manager, Aaron Klee.

He's had some false starts in that regard, but Klee said yesterday that central to this plan was that Ryder was now making his own decisions.

"He's making calls for himself. The thing about Jesse [compared with] the past is that now it's 'this is what I want to do'. I think that's fantastic."

Ryder had initiated stepping away from a possible contract, Klee said.

He wanted time to sort out other aspects of his life, and the pair would not put a time on a return.

"Quite the opposite. That would be conflicting. There's no expectations that he's just going to walk back into the Black Caps when he feels like it.

"He's held this view for couple of months that he didn't think he should be contracted."

Klee was aware of speculation that Ryder, 27, would not be offered a deal. He said talks with New Zealand Cricket officials John Buchanan and Mike Sandle, and Players Association boss Heath Mills on Wednesday, did not reach that point.

"There's every likelihood they might not have [offered a contract]. We've possibly done them a favour here. Jesse is on a good path at the moment and wants to put some runs on the board.

"He felt he couldn't commit to what was required under an NZC contract."

Ryder's stint with Pune Warriors in the Indian Premier League helped whet his appetite for the game again, Klee said, and his commitment to playing for New Zealand remained strong.

He is adamant that Ryder, who averages 40.93 from 18 tests, will be back in the national side, in time.

In pure cricket terms there's no question that Ryder is definitely among the country's top 20 cricketers.

But he is reluctant to lock himself into a deal that would impinge on the self-improvement steps he's undertaking.

"If there is any chance of having a good, sustained 10 years in the game he needed to do that."

Klee said that despite speculation, Ryder had no plans on going fulltime freelance like West Indian champion Chris Gayle, who has fallen out with the West Indies board and now plays only T20 cricket as a hired gun.

Ryder turned down an offer from an English county while in India because it did not fit in with his plans. He expects to be playing domestic cricket in New Zealand next summer.

"[But] If NZC turn around one day and say, 'No, we don't want you,' then he has to earn a living," Klee said. "Yes, there will be cricket opportunities, I'm sure of it, and we will look at them."

New Zealand have a busy programme. After a West Indies tour from late this month until early August, there are trips to India in August, the world T20 in Sri Lanka in September followed by a full tour of that country; before a visit to South Africa in December-January, then hosting England in February-March.

- NZ Herald

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