Jesse Ryder should return to the Black Caps' ranks in the near future but it would be foolish to view him as a panacea for the national team's ills, says Wellington coach Jamie Siddons.
Ryder's red-hot domestic form, along with New Zealand's struggles in South Africa, mean calls for the blockbusting left-hander to make himself available for international cricket grow louder by the day.
Ryder indicated in a radio interview yesterday that he might be ready to play for the Black Caps as soon as the coming home series with England, having declined to be considered for selection since February last year.
Ryder continues to wait until he feels "ready" to come back, which has been a boon for Wellington. They're now two wins away from their first Twenty20 title, thanks in large part to Ryder's 508 runs at 63.50.
Siddons has seen enough to convince him Ryder could step back into international one-day and Twenty20 cricket now, but with a caveat.
"If the environment back there [in the Black Caps] is the right one. Whether that's the case, only Jesse will be able to tell," Siddons said.
"What Jesse's environment is, is not necessarily what everyone else is up for.
"It's just a matter of being able to suck it up and see - once he's back there and if he wants to play - whether he's comfortable there.
"We certainly try hard to make sure the environment here is right for Jesse because he's such an important player here.
"It's a matter of how much give and take they want to do back there."
Siddons felt the secret to getting the best out of Ryder was to largely leave him to his own devices.
"No, no coaching mate, just make sure he's in a good head space and make sure Jesse's happy with Jesse and make sure he understands how important he is to our team and that it [his wicket] doesn't just get thrown away," said Siddons.
"He listens and he knows what's ahead and he says ‘no worries mate, I'm all over it'. He's really passionate about Wellington and getting trophies for us and he knows how important he is to that bigger picture."
But Ryder's "rare form" in domestic cricket would not automatically translate into the same on the international stage.
"Jesse's too good for this level but at the other level he just becomes one of the players, one of the better players. That doesn't guarantee consistency or anything else," Siddons said.
"You need to be playing really well and be in a good head space to be successful in international cricket. I think his skill will get him over the line most times and he's a great player at our level."
The Firebirds' hopes of beating Auckland in tomorrow's Twenty20 semifinal at the Basin Reserve are certainly pinned on Ryder making a big contribution. In the event that he doesn't, Siddons has augmented the Firebirds' side with two mystery imports.
One target, who was to have played in Sunday's win over Northern Districts, has been discarded because his Big Bash League team keeps winning. Australian Cameron Borgas is here but Siddons said that didn't necessarily mean he'd be one of the two imports tomorrow.
The coach, who's determined to keep the opposition guessing, added that there might be different imports for the final, against Otago on Sunday, if his team made it that far.
Jeetan Patel will play tomorrow, though, giving Wellington three spin bowling options. Siddons said the Black Caps test player was likely to replace medium pacer Tipene Friday, who was in the team that beat ND but didn't bowl.
- The Dominion Post
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