Jesse Ryder's management says the Indian Premier League is a much better fit than a "rushed" return to international cricket against England next month.
Via his manager, Aaron Klee, Ryder confirmed his unavailability for New Zealand's home series yesterday and appears almost certain to miss the return tour to England in May-June.
Instead, Ryder will complete the domestic season for Wellington then play the IPL, which runs from April 3-May 26, assuming he gets selected in this weekend's player auction.
It means Ryder's earliest likely return to the Black Caps is the tour of Bangladesh in October.
Klee said Ryder was still not ready to commit to international cricket, despite his blockbusting recent Twenty20 form for the Firebirds. He wanted to stay true to his vow last June to sit out international cricket for a full year to address personal issues and rediscover a love for cricket.
"People are going to speculate on why he's available for the IPL and not New Zealand. It's a domestic competition and it's a short-term contract so it gives us the ability to reassess it," Klee said.
"If you go back into international cricket you can't reassess tour after tour. It fits a bit better into his goals and plans."
Ryder last played for New Zealand on February 29, against South Africa in Napier, after which he was banned for one match for drinking while injured. He played for Pune Warriors in last year's IPL, with support from Klee and psychologist Karen Nimmo, then took time out of cricket and swore off alcohol.
"The IPL was wonderful for him last year. It got him back on his feet, it was a massive challenge and he nailed it. There's a lot of self-belief that came from getting through that," Klee said.
Ryder wanted to make his decision public before tomorrow's meeting with New Zealand coach Mike Hesson and manager Mike Sandle, which will also be attended by Klee and players' association boss Heath Mills.
Klee informed Sandle last week that Ryder was unavailable for the England series. The meeting in Wellington will discuss how Ryder fits into the team's plans in the coming months, and explore the prospect of him joining the team for training sessions during the home series.
"There is pressure and speculation coming from supporters and fans and media. There's been no pressure from NZC but there's an expectation that because he's been playing so well then he should be playing," Klee said.
"There's nothing to be gained by rushing him back.
"There's just downside risks. But if we're a bit more patient and wait till everything is in place and Jesse's ready then there's more upside risks."
Wellington coach Jamie Siddons said Ryder was the best person to judge his readiness for the Black Caps.
"Time will tell what the requirements of Jesse are from NZC and what he's willing to give. There's certainly compromise made from our end here to keep Jesse happy and wanting to play good cricket for us, which he is.
"Whether that can happen at the next level . . . I'll be interested to see how that [meeting] goes."
The Black Caps arrived home last night from South Africa in a buoyant mood after their 2-1 one-day series triumph.
Having won the first two matches, New Zealand posted 260-9 in Potchefstroom and lost by one wicket when Ryan McLaren hit James Franklin's final delivery for six.
"It would have been great to win the series 3-0. But achieving what we've achieved in this series and even how we've played today as well, we've showed the characteristics that we want to be known for," captain Brendon McCullum said.
England arrive in the country this week, with their Twenty20 tour opener against a New Zealand XI including Ross Taylor in Whangarei next Monday.
- The Dominion Post