Brendon McCullum, the New Zealand captain, has said he has been in touch with left-hand batsman Jesse Ryder and expects him to be back in national colours in the "not too distant future". McCullum also said he had spoken to his predecessor Ross Taylor, who has taken a break from cricket following his rejection of a split-captaincy offer.

Ryder smashed 162 off 174 balls for Wellington against Central Districts in his most recent Plunket Shield game, striking 20 fours and four sixes. In March this year, Ryder had taken an indefinite break from the game to resolve his personal issues, but in July committed to a full season of first-class cricket.

"I've been in touch with Jesse,'' McCullum told reporters before leaving for South Africa for a series comprising two Tests, three ODIs and three Twenty20s. "He's going really well. I was really pleased he again scored a lot of runs in this game. He's doing great at the moment and I'm sure he'll be back in the not too distant future. It's about Jesse getting out of first-class cricket in the next months [is] what he needs, and that's the most important thing.

"Jesse is a world-class player and we've seen that already in his time in international cricket, but the circumstances are that Jesse is unavailable at the moment and that's unfortunate.

"I guess you think of the person first and, once we get Jesse back down the track, we'll know that we'll get consistent long-term success from him rather than him coming back a little bit too early.''

Ryder hasn't played for New Zealand since February this year, and said he'll still take time to stage a return. "Not yet. I've got things I want to work on. I'm still trying to be happy again and find a love for the game again and stay on that sort of path," he told Fairfax News. "I'll reassess it, come Christmas, with Aaron [Klee, his manager] and see where I'm at.

"The runs have been flowing and I reckon it's probably the best I'm seeing the ball as well. I'm pretty happy with what's happening. It's easily my best form. I can't complain, if you're scoring runs you're a happy batsman."

McCullum also hoped to see Taylor back in the side. "He [Taylor] needs a bit of space at the moment. He's going through a very tough time and my thoughts and the team's thoughts are with him. It's similar to Jesse. When he's good and ready to come back into the team, it would be great to have him. Again, he's obviously a world-class player and by far our best batsman as well.''