Two of Jesse Ryder's biggest supporters will be cheering on from afar today as he opens another chapter in his rollercoaster life story.
Ryder's left-field selection has created more discussion than any in recent memory and the chunky allrounder has gone some way to proving his critics wrong by chipping in with bat, ball and in the field in the two Twenty20 matches against England this week.
Aaron Klee, chairman of Ryder's Naenae Old Boys club, is gutted that he won't be at Westpac Stadium to see Ryder make his one-day international debut.
"I'm in Napier for a wedding, so I'm probably the most disappointed person in Wellington," he said.
Ryder, 23, has blossomed since joining Naenae and has toned down his late-night lifestyle since moving into a flat with club captain BJ Crook.
With club cricket being shifted to tomorrow, Klee said that, despite his own absence, Naenae would be represented "en masse" today.
"There's a rumour of a couple of banners, but I'm not sure what they're going to say," he said with a laugh. "All will be revealed.
"I'm gutted because the place I'm staying at has got no Sky TV.
"I was texting Jesse before and he was asking if I'll be watching, and I said I'd have to go and find a pub somewhere to watch it.
"I'm sure I'll find somewhere with cold beer and a big screen."
Ryder's grandfather, John Parker, will also watch on television from his home in Masterton, where Ryder lived during his Central Districts days.
"I'm not physically fit enough to go down, but we'll be watching it from afar," Parker said.
"He's done very well for himself. We've always supported him - he's been a mixed-up sort of player, but he's settled into it now."
Parker was as proud as punch of his grandson's achievements and said he never got frustrated, even when Ryder appeared to be throwing away a promising career.
"He's sort of settled down now," he said. "But there's no point in getting frustrated with the young ones - let them rip away.
"He's always been a very good cricketer, even as a child at school."
Central Districts chief executive Blair Furlong watched Ryder's talent catapult him through the ranks - from Napier Boys High School to Central Districts to New Zealand Under-19 - before off-field antics began to overshadow his run-scoring abilities.
Then Central coach Mark Greatbatch went to great lengths for Ryder, arranging him a job. He was also enrolled in Brendon Bracewell's sports education facility in Masterton, but his attendance rate was poor.
Ryder parted ways with the Stags and joined Wellington in 2004, but Furlong insists there are fond memories too.
"He and Ross Taylor were under-19 bullies really, they used to smash the hell out of everyone.
"We're delighted that he's put his hand up and done well.
"It wasn't to be [at Central] and there were some well-known issues.
"But they're behind him now, hopefully, and good on him."
- The Dominion Post
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