New captain Brendon McCullum wants Jesse Ryder back in the New Zealand side but the in-form Wellington batsman is in no rush to return to the international stage.
McCullum has made contact with Ryder and believes it's only a matter of time before one of the country's best batsmen is back in the Black Caps.
However, speaking publicly for the first time this season, Ryder told Radiosport he's got no plans to do return just yet.
"I've got things I want to work on. I still want to be happy again, find the love for the game again and stay on that sort of path so I'll reassess come Christmas, with Aaron (Klee - manager) and see where I'm at.''
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 yesterday in a Plunket Shield four-day match against Central Districts at Karori Park . His knock, the latest in a run of big scores, came off 174 balls and included 20 fours and four sixes.
He admits he's easily in the best form of his career.
"I've found the enjoyment for it again. I guess scoring the runs is helping," he said.
Ryder opened the season with consecutive 100s 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.
He said he's enjoying his cricket at the moment and playing care free.
"I think it's just the fact that I don't really care when I'm out there at the moment, I'm just going out there and playing my natural game and not afraid of getting out, and it's sort of paying off for me.''
On the eve of the Black Caps' departure to South Africa for what McCullum has described as a "monumental" two-test, three one-day international and three-Twenty20 tour, the new skipper 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 in February and March could be the first time Ryder is back in the international arena and McCullum will also hope that is when former skipper Ross Taylor makes himself available again.
"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 today after New Zealand Cricket called a press conference 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, travel plans for South Africa have already put a spanner in the works. They will travel to the republic on separate flights over the next two days, hardly ideal given they are facing a country ranked No 1 in tests and No 2 in ODIs.
Oct 20 v Central Plunket Shield match 117* and 174
Nov 9 v Canterbury T20 90*
Nov 16 v Auckland T20 9
Nov 19 v Canterbury Plunket Shield match 1 and 4
Nov 26 v Auckland Plunket Shield match 72
Dec 7 v Central T20 75
Dec 10 v Central Plunket Shield match 162
Average this summer: 100.57
Test average: 40.93
ODI average: 34.37
- APNZBy Patrick McKendry Email Patrick