Jesse Ryder and NZC have agreed to avoid a national contract this year, but Ryder's manager and friend, Aaron Klee, squashed any fears Ryder might be looking at becoming a free agent in the various Twenty20 leagues across the world. The decision was made at Ryder's routine yearly review, a process every contracted New Zealand player goes through.
Ryder, Klee, New Zealand Cricket Players' Association chief Heath Mills, NZC's director of cricket John Buchanan and manager Mike Sandle were present at the review. Outgoing coach John Wright was not. Ryder tweeted the review went on for three hours. He also tweeted, "Looking forward to playing for NZ again when The time is rite."
NZC CEO David White is in England for an ICC meeting, but he said he was pleased with the outcome of the meeting. "All of the evidence shows that Jesse is on the right track, both on and off the field, but we're aware that there are still steps to be made. While cricket remains an important part of his life, it is his health and well-being that need to be the primary focus.
"Jesse wants to concentrate on his personal goals without the media pressures, commercial pressures and other demands associated with being a contracted player. This decision is fully endorsed by the NZCPA and NZC."
The outcome of the meeting was hardly unexpected, but there has been speculation around that the various Twenty20 leagues around the world could tempt Ryder into following several West Indies cricketers down the freelance route. Ryder's manager, though, reassured he still wanted to get back to playing for New Zealand.
"He is not playing any cricket at the moment," Klee said. "He is at home. If there are cricket opportunities - it's his job, it's his living - he could look at them. Short, sharp opportunities, but certainly not looking at this as freelance. The IPL was great, it provided him an opportunity to get the wheels back on the track, but Jesse still wants to play for New Zealand. There are certain things he needs to do in the meantime, and if it takes a certain period of time now, it is important to take that opportunity to do that now."
Klee said Ryder didn't yet feel ready to commit to a full-time contract. "If he had accepted a contract you are basically obliged to play," Klee said. "You are basically in a breach of contract if you say, 'No I can't play a certain tour'. Eleven months of the year touring, spent playing, all that time playing cricket, we could end up being where we were a few months ago. We don't want to do that."
Klee said Ryder had made good progress since his one-match suspension for breaking team protocol, and didn't want to undo the good work by hurrying back. Ryder then took a break from all cricket, but has since made a comeback in the IPL. He has also taken professional help, travelling to India with his clinical psychiatrist Karen Nimmo.
"We are on a good track," Klee said. "We need to carry on this track. It was Jesse's idea [to not seek a new contract]. He wants to continue what he is doing, and he has been doing very well. To be able to continue to do that, it's too much of a commitment under the contract."
There is no time frame for Ryder's comeback to national plans. Nor is he asked to come back with certain improvements before he is considered by New Zealand again. "There is nothing like that discussed today," Klee said. "It's very much in Jesse's court. When he feels ready we will communicate that to NZC. The great thing is, they have given Jesse some space to do what he needs to do."