'I'm OK', says thankful cricketer Jesse Ryder
BLAIR ENSOR, MARC GREENHILL AND CHARLEY MANN
Bashed cricketer Jesse Ryder has told supporters he is ''OK'' in his first public statement since waking from an induced coma.
The former Black Caps batsman was today moved from intensive care into a Christchurch Hospital ward as his condition improved.
Late this afternoon he issued a statement thanking the public for their support since his assault outside a Christchurch bar early on Thursday morning.
''I just want to let everyone know that I'm OK," the statement said.
"I feel heaps better today but still really tired. I've been reading your messages that have been sent so thank you to everyone for thinking of me over the last few days.
''I want to thank everyone who has been caring for me at the hospital - they have been awesome. Thank you to my family and friends who have been here also.''
Ryder's manager Aaron Klee said there would be no further updates on the player's condition.
''It is time for Jesse to focus on his recovery and getting back to full health,'' he said.
After three days in an induced coma, Ryder yesterday woke up and, in typical fashion, told his family: "Get me out of here".
The troubled cricketer was surrounded by family and friends as doctors woke him and took him off a ventilator about 10am.
He is able to talk, but has no recollection of the attack outside Aikmans Bar in the Christchurch suburb of Merivale that left him with life-threatening head and internal injuries.
However, he does remember the first-ball duck he scored in Wellington's loss to Canterbury hours earlier. He does not appear to have serious brain injuries.
Klee has not ruled out the possibility Ryder could return to cricket in the future.
Two men, who are related, aged 20 and 37, have been charged with assault in connection with the attack on the cricketer. They have been released on bail to appear in Christchurch District Court on Thursday.
There was relief etched on Klee's face yesterday as he spoke about the "leaps and bounds" the player had made since the attack.
"It was emotional for us that we were there to see [him emerge from the coma]. It happens quite quickly once they start changing the level of drugs.
"Just to see him wake up and acknowledge that you are there and then start asking for people, I guess then you know that he's there."
Doctors were pleased with Ryder's progress but had given no indication about how long he would spend in hospital, Klee said.
"They were assessing what sort of damage may have been done but at the moment it very much looks like a very bad concussion.
"He's got a bit of damage to his lungs and that's been the toughest part and that's what they've been most concerned about."
The last three days had been an emotional roller coaster for family, friends and fans, who initially did not know whether Ryder would make it.
"There's been tears all week but it was just great to be able to engage with him again," Klee said.
"We're all pretty exhausted. It's been a pretty difficult few days but having some wins over the last 24 hours has been a huge relief."
Asked what Ryder's first words were Klee said: "I can't repeat those. Put it this way, it's not like it is in the movies where they wake up peacefully and they give everyone a big hug."
However, as the effects of the drugs subsided he was able to have "good conversations" with family and friends.
Klee told the Sunday Star-Times he had asked Ryder if he had a message for his supporters. "All he said was 'Get me out of here' so he's ready to run before he can walk," he said.
The 28-year-old was scheduled to fly to India yesterday to take up a $300,000 contract with the Delhi Daredevils in the Indian Premier League. He would not receive any of that money and was not covered by any insurance other than ACC, Klee said.
The attack on Ryder shocked the nation and messages of support have flooded in from around the world.
English great Sir Ian Botham tweeted: "Just got of the plane and heard the news about Jesse Ryder! What on earth happened? Wishing him a full recovery..!"
"The family wishes to extend their sincere thanks to everyone for the messages of support and love. They mean a lot and they will help Jesse undoubtedly in his journey ahead," Klee said.
"This is only the start of the recovery process for Jesse and there is still a big battle ahead to full health."
Klee was hopeful Ryder would eventually return to cricket.
"If he can recover from these injuries and get back to playing sport I'm pretty sure there's a drive within Jesse that will get him back if he can."
Police are yet to interview Ryder "but I'm sure they'll want to," Klee said.
- Sunday Star Times
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