It took Jesse Ryder just one first-class innings to have his name linked with an international comeback.
Ryder hit 117 from 164 balls for Otago in their Plunket Shield match with his old province Wellington in the capital yesterday.
Now over his six-month ban for failing a drug test, Ryder has been vocal in his desire to return to the national team, and New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum is the first prominent voice to put a potential time on a Ryder recall.
"I imagine ... around Christmas could be a good time, if he was able to press his claim with a lot of runs," McCullum said last night from Dhaka.
That would tie in with the start of the limited-overs leg of the West Indies tour.
New Zealand have three tests in December and even a firm admirer of the burly lefthander such as Otago coach Vaughn Johnson reckoned that would be too soon. "I'm quite strong on the point if you rush him back in and he hasn't had enough domestic cricket then you might not see the best of him in international cricket again," Johnson said last night.
"I think you've got to give the kid a chance just to settle down."
Yesterday's century was Ryder's 14th in first-class cricket and helped lift Otago to a first innings of 534 for nine declared, to which Wellington had responded with 217 for two by stumps on the second day at the Basin Reserve.
"He took his time," Johnson said.
"I think he was a little bit nervous ... his first 20 or 30 runs were a wee bit scratchy, but once he was at the crease for an hour or so it was just his normal, natural self and I think it augurs well for New Zealand cricket."
Ryder wasn't talking after the day's play, but Otago Cricket issued a statement from the player, in which he said it had felt "awesome".
"I've had some amazing support over the past seven months from those close to me, and from people all over the country. That support was the first thing I thought about when I got to 100 today," he said.
"I want to keep contributing for VJ and my new teammates, who I'm loving playing with."
McCullum said consistent game time was what Ryder, 29, needed.
"There's no questioning his talent. If he bangs that door down, then of course I'd like to see him back in the Black Caps."
• His 117 yesterday for Otago was Jesse Ryder's 14th first-class century.
• It was his first innings since ending a six-month ban for failing a drug test.
• Ryder's last match for New Zealand was an ODI in Napier in February 2012.