Key Points:

Choosing Jesse Ryder for next week's Twenty20 games and the first three ODIs against England is staggering.

In recent times I've generally supported the work of the national selectors. In most respects I believe they've done a good job. But this decision leaves me cold.

For a start, the way Ryder presents himself is a bad sign.

He's too fat. He's in no fit state to play for New Zealand and if I was still in the national side, I wouldn't want him in my dressing room.

He claims to have lost 10kg, in which case you can only wonder what shape he was in before that.

This selection sends a poor message to other players. There is an implication that fitness parameters only apply to some players.

The days of picking Jock Edwards-types are over. Or David Boon, the tubby Tasmanian, for that matter.

Boon was a fine batsman, and an exception to the rule. But those guys are the dinosaurs and have no place in the modern international game.

Then you consider Ryder's off-field track record, his problems with discipline and alcohol. He says they're in the past and good luck to him, but I wouldn't have him there until he'd tidied his act up physically for a start.

One way of judging whether a player is fit for international cricket is simply by looking at him. You can usually get a good gauge whether they will be up to the job of spending a hot day in the field without falling apart in the final session. On that score, Ryder simply doesn't cut it.

I've got no personal beef with the young man. He may be a good bloke, clearly he's got some ability and I hope he gets runs next week. But it won't change my conviction that he should not have been picked.

If I was Lou Vincent - fit as a flea, terrific fielder, out of the side but desperate to get back in - or Mathew Sinclai - whose been dropped again on tenuous grounds despite not getting a chance in the ODIs against Bangladesh - I'd have been crawling up the walls this week.

And to top it off, Ryder can hardly point to a pile of runs in the bank. His one-day average this season for Wellington is 13 and he has hardly set the game alight in the first-class programme.

On that score alone, it's a bizarre call by the selectors. If Ryder was a young Ricky Ponting, someone with unlimited potential, you might just wear his selection. But he's not.

Craig McMillan was no slimline figure. But there was a big difference. Macca had a bag of first-class hundreds to his name. He had the right sort of form to back him up. Plus McMillan had well-publicised diabetic issues, which for me only enhanced his achievements.

The other selection for the early part of England's tour that caught my eye was Tim Southee in the Twenty20 squad.

Here you have the complete opposite to Ryder, a young man who looks the part. He's 19, tall, swings the ball away at a decent clip and I'm told is a level-headed young man with a big future.

Southee, who is in only his first first-class season with Northern Districts, has clearly caught important eyes and I wouldn't be surprised to see him on the tour of England in May.

I'd even go so far as to suggest when his Under-19 World Cup commitments are over in Malaysia next month, he will be a contender for the tests against England.

Remember Dan Vettori was picked for his test debut at 18 after just one first-class game, also against England, 11 years ago.

New Zealand are not exactly over-endowed with good young bowlers. With Shane Bond, Mark Gillespie and James Franklin all gone or injured, Southee is making the right impression.

Ryder and Southee appear polar opposites but they will share the dressing room at Eden Park on Tuesday night. Strange times indeed.