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Cricket World Rewind: #OnThisDay - New Zealand's Jesse Ryder is born - controversy's favourite child

New Zealand's Jesse Ryder
New Zealand's Jesse Ryder
©Reuters

August 6, 1984 - Few could hit the ball as effortlessly as Jesse Ryder did in his international career which lasted from 2008 to 2014. Hailed as the best batsman to come out of New Zealand after Martin Crowe at one point, Ryder's career turned out to be nothing but.

 

Ryder was unfortunately more in the news for his off-field exploits rather than on-field ones. Deserted by his father at the age of 14, Ryder had a rough childhood and took to drinking to ride over the issues. That became a problem for him throughout his international career. Coupled with a devil may care attitude, to put it mildly, he kept finding himself in trouble.

Ryder made his international debut in February 2008 and created instant impact with an unbeaten 79 off just 62 balls in only his 2nd ODI. Following the ODI series against England, the Kiwi injured his hand during a brawl at a bar. He also verbally abused a medical staff which brought him a 3-month ban.

That though did little to upset his form as Jesse Ryder was named the New Zealand Cricket Almanac Player of the Year in 2009.

In 2012, Ryder, struggling with his form and fitness, decided to take a sabbatical from cricket. He used this time to join the gym, get a handle on his love for the bottle and get himself back in shape.

 

 

In an unfortunate turn of events, Ryder was assaulted outside a bar in Christchurch in the early hours of March 28, 2013. The New Zealand opener suffered a fractured skull and a collapsed lung and needed assistance to breathe when brought to the hospital. There, he was kept in a medically induced coma. When he regained consciousness after three days, Ryder had no memory of the incident at the bar.

"At first," Ryder reveals, "I just couldn't walk properly. My balance was so off, and I was just struggling to walk and the weakness was crazy. (Even now) Sometimes I'll be talking to someone and we'll agree to meet somewhere then I'll forget what time we were supposed to meet and things like that."

All the hard work he had put in during the sabbatical went to dogs during this break as his physical condition degraded and he took to the bottle again. What was even more unfortunate is that Ryder was supposed to be a part of Delhi Daredevils in IPL 2013 and expected it to mark his return to the big stage.

Following the brawl, Ryder's career did not go too far. Despite him scoring what was the seventh fastest ODI century in late 2013 against West Indies and being part of a 191-run stand for the 4th wicket, it did not go down well with the New Zealand board when Ryder was filmed in an intoxicated state with all-rounder Jimmy Neesham during a series against India.

In 2014, another unwanted incident happened in a bar, when ahead of the test series against India, Ryder was named the backup to Ross Taylor for the first test. On the eve of the test match, Ryder was seen drinking with teammate Doug Bracewell at a bar till 2 a.m. The result was that he was not only dropped for the second test but also missed the bus to the T20 World Cup.

Ryder's last International appearance came against India on 31 January, 2014. He was last seen as the player-coach of Napier Technical Old Boys but has disappeared from the public eye since then.

As Ryder turns 36, having played his last First-class game for Central Districts in March 2018, he will always be remembered as a brilliant talent who could not realise his potential.

 

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