Troublesome Jesse Ryder at long odds to return

MARK GEENTY
Last updated 05:00 11/02/2014
Jesse Ryder
ALDEN WILLIAMS/Fairfax NZ
DUCKING OUT: Otago batsman Jesse Ryder at Saxton Oval in Nelson yesterday where he was dismissed for a golden duck.

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Jesse Ryder has been fined for his latest disciplinary breach but is highly unlikely to return to the New Zealand cricket team unless he admits to an alcohol problem and seeks help.

Ryder and Doug Bracewell's punishment for their night out in Auckland on the eve of the first test against India will be revealed today, and is expected to be a fine after both were charged with the same low level breach of New Zealand Cricket's code of conduct.

The troublesome pair's contracts will not be torn up, but Ryder is at long odds to play international cricket again unless he stops drinking and seeks professional assistance.

His name is almost certain to be missing from New Zealand's 15-man squad for the World Twenty20, which was to be announced tomorrow but has been pushed back to the Sunday deadline after the latest drama. A month ago Ryder would have been one of the first names inked in the squad for next month's tournament in Bangladesh, but coach Mike Hesson, management and senior players have had enough.

"We need to make sure that all our players prepare themselves accordingly for test cricket, and at the moment we don't have confidence that that's the case," a stern-faced Hesson said yesterday, confirming Ryder's axing from the squad for Friday's second test in Wellington.

Hesson dodged specific questions on whether 29-year-old Ryder has a future in the New Zealand team, but privately he holds grave doubts. If Ryder's preparation for a test, in which he was on standby for expectant father Ross Taylor, was deemed "totally unacceptable" then the coach can hardly pick him for a big world tournament a few days later.

Footage of a clearly intoxicated Ryder being cajoled into a taxi outside an Auckland bar by team-mate Jimmy Neesham at 3am the morning after the tied ODI on January 25 was widely viewed in recent days, including by Hesson.

"Um, yeah it wasn't a good look," he said.

Hesson said Ryder hadn't previously breached team protocols since returning to the Black Caps on Boxing Day after an absence of 22 months, in which time he swore off alcohol for several months then made a flying return to domestic cricket.

Ryder isn't among NZC's 20 contracted players, but is high on Otago's contract list. Otago Cricket has vowed to put support people around Ryder in the wake of his long-time manager Aaron Klee severing ties on Friday. Domestic contracts only span six months, so Ryder will be unemployed on April 1. If Ryder was to seek professional help, it would be via the Cricket Players' Association.

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Ryder's rollercoaster few days were summed up by his batting for Otago against Central Districts in Nelson; 100 not out in the first innings and a golden duck in the second.

Hesson said there were no curfews or alcohol bans when the New Zealand team was in camp.

"We have faith in our players that they make good decisions around preparation. We're dealing with grown men. If a player was to have a beer with their meal before a game we don't have an issue with that at all. But there's a big difference between that and what occurred the night before the test match."

Bracewell is back home in Napier nursing a broken bone in his foot which occurred during their night out.

He is one of NZC's 20 contracted players but is fast generating a rap sheet to rival Ryder's when it comes to trouble with alcohol. He faces a long road back to the Black Caps, too. His contract runs till July 31 and then he'll almost certainly drop down to a domestic contract with Central Districts.

- Fairfax Media

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