Former Black Caps batsman Jesse Ryder has made himself unavailable for the upcoming tour by England.
The talented 28-year-old has been one of the form domestic players of the New Zealand summer, prompting speculation that he could return to the Black Caps set-up following their just-completed tour of South Africa.
Ryder fuelled the rumours in a radio interview two weeks ago when the Wellington batsman said he was still considering his options for the tour.
But his agent, Aaron Klee, confirmed to the Sunday Star-Times yesterday that Ryder would not be available for New Zealand selection for any of the games against England during February or March - and hinted that a return to the Black Caps may still be some time away.
"Jesse has decided he is not ready to return to the Black Caps yet," Klee said.
Ryder last played for New Zealand in late February 2012, in a one-day international against South Africa in Napier. Following the game, he and seamer Doug Bracewell went out drinking, breaking a team protocol, and were stood down for the next tour match in Auckland.
Ryder, who has struggled with alcohol-related issues in the past, set in place a plan last June for the following 12 months, which featured a number of on and off-field goals. One of those was to not play international cricket for a year.
Klee, who wished to keep Ryder's off-field goals private, said the batsman intends to stick to his plan - which could see him miss the Black Caps tour to England in May and June.
"All his thinking at the moment is to keep to his original plan, which was to take 12 months out of international cricket," Klee said.
"That decision was made last June, so it's unlikely he's going to deviate from his plan. I think we need to respect that Jesse has made some really good decisions over the last 10 to 12 months.
"The first decision he made was he was going to make decisions for himself, and not do things because people want him to do them.
"He's continued to do that and has been making very good decisions. He has goals that he wants to achieve, and achieving those would be difficult while playing international cricket, especially given the schedule in the coming months."
Ryder's camp, who informed New Zealand Cricket of the decision last week, still intend to meet Black Caps coach Mike Hesson and manager Mike Sandle on Tuesday to discuss his plans for the upcoming six months - though Klee said a return for the England tour was never on the agenda.
The possibility of Ryder training with the Black Caps during the England tour will be discussed, though, Klee said.
Ryder is listed as an available player for next weekend's IPL auction. He should be in hot demand after smashing a tournament-leading 584 runs in the HRV Cup.
Yet Klee said Ryder was not driven by money, and that any chance to play in the IPL would be taken as it comes.
"There are two key reasons why he would play in the IPL if he was picked up," he said.
"Firstly, it's a domestic competition and it's different to the pressures of international cricket. Secondly, it would be a short-term contract. We would see how he goes and then re-assess following that before making the next plan, or next part of the plan."
It is understood Ryder turned down significant Twenty20 deals in Australia and Bangladesh in favour of playing the entire HRV Cup season for Wellington.
Heath Mills, chief executive of the New Zealand Cricket Players Association, has been impressed with the "big strides" Ryder has made over the past year - but believes rushing back into the Black Caps would be the wrong choice for him.
He had seen Ryder make big progress in the past six or seven months, but there was still some way to go.
"The great thing is Jesse recognises that himself. The temptation is - when he's playing so well for Wellington - to jump in and play some cricket against England.
"But that would be a mistake if we get back where we were ten months ago."
Klee said Ryder still wants to play for New Zealand again - and that day will eventually come.
"We're building a long-term foundation here. [But] we don't want to get it wrong again."
- Sunday Star Times