Jesse Ryder has signed with Melbourne Renegades to play in Australia's Twenty20 Big Bash, but is also expected to play a full part in Otago's T20 campaign this summer.
Fairfax Media can confirm Ryder signed with the franchise this week and an official announcement is expected in coming days that he'll join the Renegades in mid-January for four matches and the finals if they make it. He is understood to be on the going rate for an overseas player in the Big Bash, of A$10,000 per game.
The destructive batsman, plying his trade with Essex in England, is currently a free agent but is expected to be offered a contract by Otago next month and intends to rejoin them. The six-month domestic contracts run from October 1 till March 31.
Otago Cricket chief executive Ross Dykes declined to comment on Ryder's talks with the Renegades, but it is understood the Volts' big drawcard will be available for New Zealand's T20 competition. Schedules haven't yet been released, but it is expected to start in November with televised Friday night matches, and finish slightly earlier than last season, in early January.
Ryder will miss Plunket Shield and one-day matches for the Volts during his three-week stint in Australia.
New Zealand Cricket's only comment was to confirm it signed the required no objection certificate this week, thereby clearing the way for Ryder to make his debut in Australia. NZC won't be overjoyed about Ryder playing overseas while contracted to a New Zealand team with the domestic season in full swing, but as an independent contractor he's under no obligation.
It also raises the question about Ryder's World Cup aspirations, with the tournament starting in New Zealand and Australia in mid-February after a seven-match home series with Sri Lanka in January.
His 18-test, 48-ODI career is in limbo as Black Caps coach Mike Hesson refuses to pick him due to off-field disciplinary issues involving alcohol. Ryder's signing with the Renegades for most of January suggests he doesn't expect to figure in New Zealand's plans, but it is understood Hesson hasn't shut the World Cup door on Ryder, a genuine matchwinner in the troublesome opening spot. His off-field behaviour would need to be exemplary and his batting form hard to resist.
In six T20 innings for Essex he hasn't set the world alight, scoring 134 runs at an average of 22 (strike rate 160), with a highest score of 32.
Dykes, speaking earlier this week, said he was in regular contact with Ryder and he'd kept Otago informed of his plans. He hoped Ryder's international career wasn't over.
"I would love to see him in form and of a mind to get himself back into the Black Caps but at this stage it's not on the cards, I don't think. There is an awful lot of time between now and then and he'd certainly have my encouragement to keep that door open," Dykes said.
- The Dominion Post
Should the NZ selectors pick Jesse Ryder if he's available?