How disappointing – although hardly surprising – was it to see Jesse Ryder stuff up once again?
OPINION: Here's a guy who Black Caps coach John Wright rushed back as soon as he was fit and ready to play and what does he get for his troubles? Another kick in the teeth.
The latest incident was a stupid misdemeanour and I understand Ryder wasn't drunk. But that's not exactly a saving grace, is it?
If you're in the Black Caps and you're carrying an injury – no matter how minor – team protocols dictate that you don't go out and drink.
It's as simple as that and, for his part, Ryder has been handed a one-match ban.
To me, that punishment doesn't remotely fit the crime.
I believe that Ryder was on his last chance with New Zealand Cricket and the time has come to take more serious action.
Instead, the powers that be continue to be soft with him and that means he's only going to continue to put himself in situations that lead to trouble.
By my count, the guy's found himself in hot water for behavioural issues on five occasions now and when is enough enough?
One of the arguments in his defence in the last couple of days has been that his breach of team protocol was on the minor side and wasn't a breach of the code of conduct.
But surely it's part of Ryder's contractual obligations to the national body that he is fit, healthy and ready to play cricket for the Black Caps when required.
Whether this was a minor breach or not, it was still a breach and his fifth stuff-up by my count.
But even so, NZC continually seems to let him off with a slap over the wrist with a wet bus ticket.
The message they are sending to younger players who train their guts out and don't carry on like Ryder is that you don't have to be professional to play for your country.
I think this was Ryder's final chance. And what, it's only taken one week since his return to international cricket after a two-month hiatus for him to find himself in trouble again.
By dropping him only for one ODI, the message to everyone else is a bad one.
This is just a real shame for all concerned and the worst thing about Ryder is that he's letting good people down now.
He's had a lot of people who have really gone in to bat for him. But his response always seems to be to thumb his nose at them.
There's a time to have a beer and time not to. Ryder shouldn't have been drinking the other night, not only because he was injured but also because New Zealand had just been belted by South Africa. It's also not a good look that he appears to have dragged Doug Bracewell along to the pub with him.
Given he's the more experienced head, Ryder should have thought more about the influence he was having on his younger team-mate.
SLOW WICKETS A BACKWARDS STEP
On to the test series, which starts in Dunedin on Wednesday, and the 13-man squad named on Friday has a predictable look about it.
Andrew Ellis, an all-rounder, was a good addition but I'd be surprised if he and Brent Arnel were to play in the first test.
What I'm hearing is that all of the groundsmen around the country have been asked to produce slow, seaming wickets for the tests.
To me, that's a massive step backwards.
We've developed a reputation in the last five years or so as being a country that produces some excellent cricket wickets.
That in turn has lifted the standard of the cricket played here.
But what this message, which I understand has come from the Black Caps' management, sends is that we are afraid of South Africa's pace so want to negate that by staging the tests on low, slow wickets.
That doesn't make for good cricket and it's a real shame.
I totally disagree with it and think it's going to impact detrimentally on the quality of what has been a hotly anticipated test series against one of world cricket's powerhouses.
Simon Doull is a former Black Cap
- Sunday News
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