Jesse Ryder is set to make a splash in Australia, with Melbourne Renegades in the Twenty20 Big Bash this summer.
The destructive batsman, currently plying his trade with Essex in England, is poised to join the franchise after New Zealand Cricket confirmed it would issue the required no objection certificate (NOC) for the tournament starting in December.
Renegades chief executive Stuart Coventry confirmed Ryder was one of several internationals the franchise was in talks with, but insisted no contract had yet been signed.
"I'll just say we're in discussions with Jesse and a number of other players to work out how it fits with our team, availability and other mitigating circumstances," Coventry said.
In a statement, NZC said it wouldn't stand in Ryder's way, and had received a request for a NOC which it signed before he joined Essex. Players looking to sign overseas require an NOC from their national body, and Ryder was technically employed by NZC last season when contracted to Otago. The 29-year-old's international career remains in limbo after the Black Caps overlooked him for the West Indies tour due to off-field issues with alcohol.
The only sticking point with Ryder's potential signing with the Renegades is the fact he might miss Twenty20 matches for the Volts, thereby robbing the competition of its biggest drawcard. The New Zealand schedule isn't yet released but the two competitions usually clash.
Otago Cricket chief executive Ross Dykes was unsure what stage Ryder was at with the Renegades, but said he'd be relaxed about their star player jetting back and forth across the Tasman in December-January as Brendon McCullum and Daniel Vettori had done.
"The way cricket is going in this era of franchise competitions all over the world you've got to give players the freedom to earn a living. Whilst you hope that their first loyalty is here, I don't think we can be too black and white about it," Dykes said.
Ryder took his first 10-wicket bag in first-class cricket for Essex last week, but hasn't yet fired with the bat. In six T20 innings he's scored 134 runs at an average of 22 (strike rate 160), with a highest score of 32.
Melbourne Renegades finished sixth of eight teams in this year's Big Bash with a 3-5 record. Their roster included internationals Dwayne Bravo, Jos Buttler and Muttiah Muralitharan, and Australian stars Aaron Finch, James Pattinson and Peter Siddle.
Coventry said Ryder's off-field behaviour, which has him at odds with NZC, hadn't played a part in their negotiations.
"We understand he's had some misdemeanours in the past but from a playing point of view he's an exceptional talent, and off the field I think he'd fit in really well within our culture at the Renegades. I understand he's in a much better space. At Essex they've obviously done their due diligence and it's not part of the big issues that are involved in us making our decision."
- The Dominion Post
Should the NZ selectors pick Jesse Ryder if he's available?