Jesse Ryder is ditching Wellington and heading south to Otago in a bid to relaunch his cricketing career.
Cricket Wellington chief executive Peter Clinton confirmed the blockbusting batsman had been granted his transfer request.
''We put a contract offer to Jesse, we wanted him to stay in Wellington, he's a world class player,'' Clinton said.
''But we respect his decision. He's decided he wants to move away and try it with Otago next season. We wish him all the best.''
Asked whether the decision was based on money, Clinton said: ''You'll have to ask Jesse but my understanding is he thinks he needs a change of scene. And Otago gives him that opportunity. He's obviously still very keen and committed to play for New Zealand and I certainly hope he gets there. He thinks his best chance is to give himself a new start this season.''
Ryder has been quietly going about his rehabilitation after he was the victim of a brutal assault outside a Christchurch bar in March.
The 28-year-old started his first-class career with Central Districts but was lured to Wellington in 2004 by then Firebirds coach Vaughn Johnson - who he will be reunited with in Dunedin.
There will be mixed feelings behind the scenes at Cricket Wellington.
Ryder is a drawcard and a matchwinner but his off-field issues are well documented and he is high maintenance in the dressing room.
Clinton said the decision was a blow on and off the field.
''On his day he's devastating as a batsman. And he's very popular with the fans of course, he's got a lot of pulling power in terms of the way he plays the game and his cult hero status that he's got. So he's a big loss to the team and we lose perhaps a bit of interest around the spectator base as well.''
It is understood the gifted left-hander will be placed high on Otago's contract list, while Wellington are trying to cram a number of fringe internationals on their list after Grant Elliott was the sole Firebird to gain a national deal.
''We're confident that this team is still very strong, even without Jesse in it,'' Clinton said.
- The Dominion Post
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