OPINION: Jesse Ryder has gone 70-odd days without a drink. He has survived India and its temptations but now has to survive New Zealand.
Good people are behind him but sooner or later he has to stand on his own two feet.
Managers have real jobs, psychologists have other clients. Oh, how they must realise that 90 per cent of your time is taken up by 10 per cent of your people.
Ryder is back in the news. He has declined a national cricket contract that he wasn't going to get anyhow because he was incapable of meeting fitness, attitude and behaviour standards.
Either way, the promotional and sponsorship pressures are about to be removed, not that he was seen outside too many schools or shops.
What is the downside in all of this for Ryder?
He loses in the pocket (drops from national retainer of $150,000 to a provincial retainer with Wellington of $37,000) but he grew up with no money and is neither bothered nor driven by it.
Otherwise Ryder can sail along under his own steam. He will still have access to New Zealand Cricket's high-performance programme which covers expert coaching, fitness and medical issues.
Hats off to NZC for that gesture.
And he will be considered for New Zealand again when everyone agrees the time is right.
From August 1, Ryder will be in the hands of Cricket Wellington. It could run him out of town like rugby did to Ma'a Nonu but that is not in its thinking.
Ryder seems remorseful and will be introduced back into the fold in a month or two. That won't be a piece of cake, though, as bad blood lingers from last season. Witnesses of a club game at Karori Park where Ryder and Firebirds team-mate Harry Boam were on opposing sides still talk of the personal insults levelled at each other that day.
Ryder's next cricket assignment is the Sri Lanka Premier League Twenty20 competition in August but his camp are scotching suggestions of him freelancing as a hired gun on the Twenty20 treadmill, like West Indian Chris Gayle.
That is their last card if all else crumbles and Ryder needs to earn a living.
Ryder would play for the New Zealand province prepared to pay the most for him in the HRV Cup. He could then dart across the Tasman and turn out in the Big Bash and then divide the rest of his time between the Indian Premier League and England.
Ostracising himself would be a disaster.
What happens when your batting goes to pot? Does Ryder have the personality to walk into four foreign dressing rooms and win people over? And, perhaps most of all, how will he cope with the loneliness of a hotel room. Ryder lacks the mental toughness to handle that existence. This is not his cup of tea.
Ryder is to cricket what John Daly is to golf.
He draws people to television sets, hits the ball miles, produces miracles but you always feel there is a train smash around the next corner.
Not for the first time, Ryder needs to start all over again. Cricket tells its practitioners to forget about the last ball and concentrate on the next one. Ryder, himself, can have that same opportunity.
- The Dominion Post
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