Jesse Ryder joins Melbourne Renegades
New Zealand batsman Jesse Ryder will make his first appearance in the BBL this coming summer after signing with the Melbourne Renegades. Ryder has been granted leave from the Otago Volts to take part in Australia's domestic T20 competition and has joined a top order that also features Aaron Finch, Matthew Wade and Callum Ferguson.
"Respect and appreciation to Otago cricket for their flexibility," Ryder said from England, where he is currently playing county cricket with Essex. "I'm stoked and grateful to be taking part in one of the best T20 competitions in the world. The Renegades have some class players so I'm looking forward to contributing."
Ryder averages 27.40 at a strike-rate of 145.90 in T20 cricket but his on-field exploits have often been overshadowed by his behaviour off the field. Most recently, he was dropped from New Zealand's Test squad in February after he and team-mate Doug Bracewell stayed out late at a bar on the night before a Test match in which they could have played.
Subsequently, Ryder was also left out of the squad for the World T20 in Bangladesh, with New Zealand's selection chief Bruce Edgar declaring that he had to be excluded because "character is really important as part of our selection process". Ryder has not played for New Zealand since.
However, the fact that he is playing cricket at all is a positive after he was assaulted outside a Christchurch bar last March. The attack left Ryder in a critical condition in hospital, although he made a full recovery.
Later in 2013, he was given a retrospective six-month suspension for failing a routine drug test earlier in the year, while he was playing in the Ford Trophy. His list of off-field indiscretions stretches back to 2008.
However, the Renegades coach Simon Helmot said they had "a lot of faith" in Ryder, and that their director of cricket Tom Moody had been instrumental in recruiting him.
"He had no hesitation in nominating Jesse as a 'must have' for the Renegades and we're delighted to welcome him to the Renegades this summer," Helmot said. "We have a lot of faith in Jesse and I'm sure he'll quickly become a favourite with his big hitting in BBL 04."
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @brydoncoverdale