Is Ryder ready for a return?
Mike Hesson needs to be a bit more active in catching up with Jesse Ryder, the prodigal son of New Zealand cricket. Ryder, 30, remains on the outer with the cricket establishment, and especially New Zealand team selector-coach Hesson, after yet another display of ill-discipline involving alcohol last January.
Hesson basically cut Ryder adrift, and at the time few blamed him.
Ryder had had more last chances than Judith Collins and had used up all the goodwill going.
Since then he’s had a really good season with English county Essex.
In first-class matches he scored 630 runs at an average of 37 an innings and took 44 wickets at 18.1.
In the one-day competition he scored 369 runs at a strike rate of 122 and he was even more destructive in the Twenty20 competition.
Essex were so pleased with Ryder that they’ve signed him for a further two years.
County coach Paul Grayson said he was warned about Ryder before the season.
‘‘It’s fair to say that he came with a bit of baggage, but he’s been just brilliant. He’s enjoyed the routine of county cricket,’’ Grayson said.
Given Ryder’s undisputed ability and his emerging status as an all- rounder ( his medium-pace bowling improved markedly in England), you’d have thought all this might have interested Hesson, as he puts together a team for the World Cup early next year.
At his best Ryder is a destructive lefthanded opening batsman – in 48 one-day internationals he has scored 1362 runs at a strike-rate of 95.3.
He would also offer New Zealand an important option in bowling cover.
I can understand Hesson and the rest of the New Zealand Cricket hierarchy being huffy with Ryder back in January. What’s more, New Zealand has played fine cricket since and there are lots of good players now jostling for spots. But few have Ryder’s natural gifts. It was disappointing to hear that Hesson had not spoken to Ryder at the end of last season, despite a planned meeting. ‘‘It didn’t work out,’’ he said rather casually.
Last week, asked about Ryder in view of his country cricket form, Hesson said: ‘‘We need to see changes and we haven’t seen that yet.’’
I wonder how hard Hesson is looking. Has he spoken to the Essex management to see if Ryder is still a troubled soul? Has he asked them how they handled him?
One of the skills of a good coach is in being able to handle diverse personalities. That is the challenge for Hesson.
I’m not suggesting Ryder should simply waltz back into the New Zealand team. Far from it.
But it would be nice to think the coach was open-minded on the subject and was at least willing to undertake due diligence, as they say in the business world.
If Ryder is firing for the New Zealand side for the World Cup, you can guarantee spectators will flock to see him and that he will win some matches for his team.
It would behove Hesson not to be too rigid on this issue and to at least take the trouble of finding out if the talented Ryder should really still be persona non grata.
New leaf: Should Jesse Ryder be forgiven past indiscretions?