Can Jesse Ryder, NZ Cricket bury hatchet?
OPINION: A return to international cricket might not be as simple as a handshake between Black Caps coach Mike Hesson and Jesse Ryder.
The pair are due to meet on January 29 with the national team's manager, Mike Sandle, and it is understood New Zealand Cricket (NZC) boss David White could also attend.
It seems a simple proposition: Hesson and co need Ryder, and Ryder is in form and seemingly enjoying his cricket.
Why not bury the past and move on?
There is far more to it, however. How that meeting goes will determine Ryder's international future and he and the people around him would be silly not to ask tough questions of Hesson and NZC.
Former boss Justin Vaughan put Ryder on a last-chance deal more than once. Does that still stand? If he puts one foot wrong, is he gone?
If he comes under flak, as he did last summer when former international Craig McMillan blamed Ryder's slow innings for a Twenty20 international loss against South Africa, will NZC back him? It did not then.
If a member of the public has a go at Ryder and he gives it back, as happened in Napier last February, will NZC back its man? They didn't then.
The Press understands calls came from the very top to "deal" with Ryder after the Napier incident for fear it reflected poorly on NZC.
The past two months, on and off the pitch, have done more damage to NZC's reputation than any Ryder flareup ever could.
NZC bosses must be yearning for the day when a Ryder late-night indiscretion was their biggest worry. Compared to being bowled out for 45 and two innings defeats, Ryder's troubles pale in comparison.
At the moment they need him more than he needs them.
And he owes NZC nothing after the way he has been handled.
But he clearly wants to be part of the Black Caps setup.
If not, he would have chased the rupees, dollars, pounds and Bangladeshi taka on offer to play in various T20 competitions around the world. For those thinking Ryder is selfish or only out for money, think again.
Ryder turned down a substantial offer, believed to be well into six figures, to play the entire Big Bash League with an Australian franchise, in favour of playing for Wellington.
He is the leading run scorer in the domestic T20 competition with 508 runs from 10 matches at an average of 63.50. In first-class cricket he averages 69.75 and has scored three hundreds and one half-century from five matches.
He is obviously a talent and one NZC should be desperate to get back.
But Ryder should come back on his terms when he is ready. Otherwise he is likely to struggle with off-field issues.
- © Fairfax NZ News