Cricket: Coach big factor in Ryder's move

By David Leggat

Jesse Ryder is leaving Wellington to join Otago. Photo / APN
Jesse Ryder is leaving Wellington to join Otago. Photo / APN

Jesse Ryder had negotiations with four of New Zealand's six major associations before settling on Otago in his bid to relaunch his international career.

The move away from Wellington re-unites the gifted but wayward lefthander with coach Vaughan Johnson, the man who got Ryder to switch from Central Districts to Wellington nine years ago.

And Ryder's manager Aaron Klee insists Ryder wants to return to the national side for whom he last appeared on February 29 last year, making a duck in an ODI against South Africa in Napier.

"He's done this a couple of times but he is restarting, and this time it wasn't of his own doing," Klee told the Herald last night, referring to the assault on Ryder outside a Christchurch bar last March.

"He's having to start from scratch, rebuild his health and fitness and get back to play at domestic level and I think he'll be reaching for as high as he can go.

"He's had a good time to think about it. He's been thinking after what happened in March - like when everything flashes in front of you - your career could be over in an instant, so you make the most of it.

"We've had chats about 'let's get back, put the foot down and see where it goes'."

Klee said 28-year-old Ryder's motivations for leaving Wellington were, in addition to a new challenge, "the opportunity to work with VJ [Johnson] again and the players down there have been very encouraging for him".

He supported Wellington Cricket chief executive Peter Clinton's view that there were no issues over the contract that association put before Ryder.

"It was fair, no different to what he's going to," Klee said. "That wasn't a factor. We didn't have a problem with what they were offering."

Klee wouldn't reveal the other associations he and Ryder had talks with.

The Johnson factor had been significant, he added.

"They know how each other works. They've had their moments but there's good trust there."

Three major associations have new coaches - Auckland, Northern and Central Districts - and Klee said that made it difficult working out which location might be a good fit.

"A couple [of associations] we didn't go looking at. We did some pretty thorough due diligence with the final two."

Klee said Ryder - whose chequered career has earned him a cult following, as well as plenty of opprobrium since his international debut in 2008 - had admitted to him that the easier option would have been to stay put at Wellington and he's heartened by that attitude.

"He's actually pushed himself to take a bit of a plunge in the deep end and go to a new environment."

Johnson said there'll be no special privileges for Ryder at Otago.

"The Otago cricket team set their own culture, and follow each other," he said.

"I'm not focusing on Jesse as anything else but a very fine cricketer. That's how I'll treat him, and I'll expect him to perform on the park."

Klee said the ongoing court case wasn't a concern for Ryder. "It's certainly not a distraction. He's staying clear of it. We get phone calls from the courts telling us what's going on. Other than that we don't pay much attention to it."

- NZ Herald

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