New Zealand batsman Jesse Ryder is hoping to make a return to the international side for the upcoming home tours against West Indies and India. Ryder, who completed his six-month ban period after testing positive to a drug test in March, will be starting the season with Otago's first Plunket Shield game against Wellington.
"My main goal is to play for New Zealand again," Ryder told Fairfax NZ news. "All going well, I'd like to push for the West Indies tour. But, definitely, the main aim is to try and earn a call-up in time for that Indian tour [in January] if they don't pick me for the West Indies tour."
New Zealand is hosting West Indies for a tour that commences on December 3 and includes three Tests, five ODIs and two T20s. It is immediately followed by five ODI and two Tests against India in January and February.
If Ryder is to make a return for the West Indies tour, he has two Plunket Shield matches and four HRV Cup matches to impress the selectors, and he felt he is in shape for the start of the season.
"The body's pretty good," Ryder said. "I'm still suffering a little with the head, you know - just some light-headedness. But that's slowly getting better. I've been training hard and everything's coming along really well."
Ryder, who had taken time off cricket in 2012, returned later in the summer last year and scored heavily in the domestic matches, reeling off 1479 runs at an average of 49.30 across formats. In March 2013, Ryder was assaulted outside a bar in Christchurch and spent two days in a medically induced coma before making a recovery. But he still struggles to remember what had actually happened.
''I look back and think I am lucky not to be dead,'' Ryder said. "'I couldn't really believe it. I didn't know where I was, what had happened. Someone told me I'd been jumped, hit from behind and had whacked my head. It was just black. I just woke up [in hospital] all of a sudden after 56 hours or so, I think it was, just bang, like that.
"At first, I just couldn't walk properly. My balance was just so off and I was struggling to walk and the weakness was crazy. It took ages to get back to normal. I would love to actually take this opportunity to thank all the people who supported me through that time. It was overwhelming."
Ryder announced his decision to leave Wellington in July and represent Otago in the forthcoming domestic season. One month later, he was banned from taking part in any cricket-related activity after testing positive during a routine drug test while playing a Ford Trophy match for Wellington on March 24. The ban ended on October 19.
"I'm not going to bother with supplements anymore," Ryder, who had admitted his carelessness in consuming the banned substance, said. "They are a waste of time and I definitely don't want to ever go through that again."