Cricket: Ryder returns to the crease

By Kris Shannon

Jesse Ryder last played for New Zealand in February 2012 but he made a decent start to his quest to make an international return. Photo / Getty
Jesse Ryder last played for New Zealand in February 2012 but he made a decent start to his quest to make an international return. Photo / Getty

Jesse Ryder made his long awaited cricket comeback today but he was overshadowed by a pair of teammates.

Having served a six-month suspension for a failed drug test, Ryder returned to the crease on the first day of the opening Plunket Shield match between Wellington and Otago.

Ryder moved south for a fresh start but immediately found himself back at the Basin Reserve, heading to stumps unbeaten on 48 as part of Otago's impressive tally of 358-3.

The former Black Cap had to wait some time for his turn in the middle as teammates Aaron Redmond and Michael Bracewell stole away some of the spotlight with a 217-run stand for the second wicket.

Both men made centuries as Otago made light work of a bowling attack boasting several former internationals, with Bracewell departing for 107 and Redmond being dismissed for 154 just before stumps.

But most interest was on Ryder, whose last match came in March. He has experienced an eventful hiatus away from the sport, with his drug ban preceded by a spell in the hospital after being the victim of an assault in Christchurch.

Ryder, who brought up 5000 first class runs and enhanced his average of 44, is eying a return to the national side after last donning the black cap against South Africa in February 2012.

He made a decent first step on that quest despite having only one week of training, though the efforts of his teammates meant he had little more than an hour at the crease. The 29-year-old did show some nice touches in his 78-ball stay, finding the boundary rope on 10 occasions.

That aggression was indicative of Otago's approach against a loose Wellington bowling unit. The visitors trucked along at four runs an over for much of the day, before slowing day slightly in the final hour.

Mark Gillespie, having recently returned from test duty in Bangladesh, was unproductive in 20 overs costing 95 runs, while James Franklin and new signing Brent Arnel were just as toothless.

With an opportunity open in the test team for a spinner to seize, Jeetan Patel was more effective and picked up the wicket of Bracewell to finish the day with figures of 1-70 from 24 overs.

Andy McKay was the other bowler to enjoy some success, trapping opener Neil Broom in front for 32 and inducing an edge from Redmond to end his six-hour stay.

- APNZ

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