Jesse Daniel Ryder
August 06, 1984, Masterton, Wellington
Left hand bat
Right arm medium
Napier Boys High
Jesse Ryder's short-arm pulls, his flicks off the hip, and the pick-up shots off the toes evoke sunny lazy afternoons; his life off the field is straight from dark winter nights. Abandoned by his separated parents, Ryder spent his teenage years bouncing around friends' houses and sleeping in their couches. Along the way he began playing indoor cricket, and turned out to be pretty damn good at it. Those formative years without boundaries or direction also formed the basis of the alcohol trouble that has been a companion almost throughout his adult life.
If that hint of vulnerability, that rebellious streak, that human touch in an increasingly robotic world of sport, endeared Ryder to the public, the failure to keep that promise of talent and the tendency to not learn from indiscretions frustrated in equal measure. At his best Ryder makes batting look easy, bowls decent dibbly dobblies, fields superbly at gully (don't believe Adam Parore who said Ryder was too fat to play for New Zealand), spends hours signing autographs for kids, and is a shy little kid when in public. When not at his best he has got into ugly bar incidents, has signed for Ireland when on the verge of breaking into the New Zealand side, has got into drinking trouble again and again, and has played only 18 Tests and 48 ODIs after making his debut in 2008.
In 2012, working closely with friend and manager Aaron Klee, Ryder decided that playing international cricket put too stern a demand on him psychologically and emotionally, and went on a sabbatical. He worked hard, got fitter, got therapy, boxed a little, came back to domestic cricket, and just when it seemed he was approaching a happy space in life he was assaulted brutally outside a suburban Christchurch bar in March 2013. He was in for more trouble later in the year, when he was banned six months for consuming a banned substance: the New Zealand Sports Tribunal ruled Ryder had consumed the substance unwittingly, as part of a pill supplement for his weight-reduction programme, and he was suspended till October.
Still, he won another recall for New Zealand, scoring what was the seventh-fastest ODI hundred - off 46 balls - against West Indies in January 2014, in the same match that Corey Anderson broke the record. A month later, he missed out on a first Test appearance in more than two years after indulging in another late night. An impressive county season in England with Essex - where his bowling was a revelation - led to calls for him to be considered for the World Cup but, after pulling out of a New Zealand A tour to the UAE for personal reasons, he was left out of the 30-man squad.
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