Patrick McKendry

Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Cricket: McCullum reaches out to Ryder and Taylor

There's been plenty of time spent on the phone by Brendon McCullum in his whirlwind first few days as Black Caps captain. Photo / Martin Hunter.
There's been plenty of time spent on the phone by Brendon McCullum in his whirlwind first few days as Black Caps captain. Photo / Martin Hunter.

New captain Brendon McCullum has made contact with the in-form Jesse Ryder and believes it's only a matter of time before one of the country's best batsmen is back in the New Zealand side.

McCullum also revealed today that he has spoken to former skipper Ross Taylor - also taking a break from the international game - as he attempts to bring a team together under the most difficult of circumstances.

Ryder, unavailable for the Black Caps while he works on personal issues, is proving to be an extremely big fish in New Zealand's small domestic cricket pond.

The Wellington player was dismissed for 162 today in a Plunket Shield four-day match against Central Districts at Karori Park in the capital. His knock, the latest in a run of big scores, came off 174 balls and included 20 fours and four sixes.

Ryder opened the season with consecutive hundreds against Central Districts and last week smashed 75 in an HRV Cup Twenty20 match, also against CD.

He has now amassed 704 runs in all formats, including three centuries, at an average of 100.57.

On the eve of his departure to South Africa for what the new skipper described as a "monumental'' two-test, three one-day international and three-Twenty20 tour, McCullum said Ryder was a player he would dearly love to have on board.

"I've been in touch with Jesse,'' McCullum said. "He's going really well. I was really pleased he again scored a lot of runs in this game. He's doing great at the moment and I'm sure he'll be back in the not too distant future. It's about Jesse getting out of first-class cricket in the next months what he needs, and that's the most important thing.''

Asked if it was tough watching the 28-year-old plunder attacks to all corners of New Zealand's grounds without being able to bat alongside him in an international, McCullum said: "Of course it's tough. Jesse is a world-class player and we've seen that already in his time in international cricket, but the circumstances are that Jesse is unavailable at the moment and that's unfortunate.

"I guess you think of the person first and, once we get Jesse back down the track, we'll know that we'll get consistent long-term success from him rather than him coming back a little bit too early.''

England's tour to New Zealand in February and March could be the first time Ryder is back in the black cap and McCullum will also hope that's when Taylor makes himself available again after his withdrawal from the team in the wake of the recent captaincy controversy.

"He [Taylor] needs a bit of space at the moment. He's going through a very tough time and my thoughts and the team's thoughts are with him. It's similar to Jesse. When he's good and ready to come back into the team, it would be great to have him. Again, he's obviously a world-class player and by far and away our best batsman as well.''

The fallout from coach Mike Hesson's decision to strip Taylor of the captaincy will turn in yet another direction at the Basin Reserve tomorrow (Wed) after New Zealand Cricket called a press conference at the ground involving chairman Chris Moller and chief executive David White. Moller has yet to comment on the saga.

While McCullum's first aim is to bring his team together, the travel plans for South Africa have already put a spanner in the works. The Black Caps will travel to the Republic on separate flights over the next two days, hardly ideal given they are flying into a country ranked No 1 in tests and No 2 in ODIs.

- APNZ

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