Jesse Ryder announced his return to competitive cricket with an unbeaten and aggressive half-century on the second day of Wellington's Plunket Shield match against Central Districts - his first match since May when he played in the IPL. Ryder, who spent the last few months away from cricket, was the top scorer with an 83-ball 84 while the rest of the Wellington middle-order failed to build upon a century opening stand and stumbled to 254 for 8 in response to Central Districts' 383.

In March this year, Ryder had pulled out of the Wellington squad and had decided to take an indefinite break from cricket to resolve personal issues. He travelled to India to play in the IPL with a support structure in place, but later agreed with the NZC to avoid a national contract this year. However, he was offered a Wellington contract for the season.

"I'm setting myself some big goals for the season - I'm going to come back stronger than ever and make an impact for Wellington," Ryder had said in July. "This is the first step in the next stage of my career and I'm going hard out. As I said, I'm just focusing on one job at a time. I don't have any expectations of being selected for the Black Caps [New Zealand team] this summer - if I score heaps of runs and do the right stuff, that might happen in time.

"It's all about Wellington for me at the moment - whatever happens in the future will happen. I want to play for New Zealand again, but I'm taking one step at a time."

He had impressed the Wellington coach, Jamie Siddons, with his fitness and his attitude during pre-season training.

"I wouldn't say he's the skinniest person in the world but he has certainly lost a bit of weight and he's been putting in all the hard yards that we expected of him." Siddons had said. "I think he's looking forward to playing cricket. That's what he does, that's what he's great at. He wants to get out there with a bat in his hand and put himself forward for the Black Caps down the track."

Ryder's last international appearance for New Zealand was during the home ODI series against South Africa in February this year and he was dropped after he broke team protocol while injured.