Jesse Ryder – The Lost Boy

Whenever we talk about modern-day New Zealand stars names like Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor and Martin Guptill come to mind, but those who follow New Zealand cricket know that New Zealand missed out one of their brightest talent and a potential star. Sports Courant analyst Abhishek Srivastava analyses story of  Jesse Ryder, how he made it to National team and then how did he lose his way.

Over the past month whenever New Zealand seemed to have missed the way in international cricket matches due to their dependency on players like Martin Guptill, Ross Taylor, Kane Williamson, fans and experts have always wished for one name that could have given much-needed strength to the batting line-up Jesse Ryder.

The super talented southpaw from the central district has shown immense talent and potential in his short and troubled career. A look at how the once promised career lost his way and went into the oblivion. Ryder’s story is one which shows the talent itself is not enough to get success at the international level; you need strong temperament and discipline.

Anyone who knows Ryder would have sympathy with the kind of childhood he spent; he had troubled early years with almost no one to take care of him. The marriage of his parents was troublesome with daily fights, and ultimately it ended up being split. Ryder moved from one city to another and finally settled with his Dad Peter in Napier. He, however, couldn’t get the love of his father and neither the guidance and direction in early years.

In his own words “I didn’t really have the best upbringing in Napier because my old man was always going out and coming late’’. He barely was able to spend time with him and then one day he was jolted down when his father left him suddenly to his friend’s home with a promise to return in a week, but he never returned.

It was hard for Ryder; he was only 14, barely a kid, fighting with the world which made him a rebel, always eager to barge the boundaries. It was here he got misdirected in the absence of parental guidance. However it was not his fault he did what a 14-year-old could do, and still, he remained strong. He started drinking heavily, partying and clubbing with no limitations, it was here he started playing more and more cricket.

“I started playing a lot of indoor cricket… and we were making a lot of road trips,” Ryder said. “I was always drinking with the boys in the team, and that’s about the point in my life where it all started I guess.”It was also the point where the rare cricketing ability that would take him to the very top of the game began to blossom.

He notched a century in the 4th format Napier Boys, top scored with 272 for the college and was propelled into the Central District’s team. Only 18 he played his first, first-class game. In 2008 at 23 he was selected for the home series against England.

A talent on Fore: In spite of his troublesome and indisciplined behaviour Ryder has shown in his short career of what he is capable of. Playing in only his second one-day international, Ryder made an unbeaten 79 against England, a high-quality knock. In his second test, he made 91 on a spinning track in Bangladesh. Against India in 2008-09 in home series, he was at his best.

Ryder made a brilliant 105 at Christchurch and followed with scores of 46 and 63 in limited overs. In test matches, he made excellent 102 at Hamilton, when other of his teammates were falling like nine pins. In the Second Test at Napier, he made his first double century and his highest score till date a massive 201. Ryder’s 103 against India at Ahmadabad in 2010-11 was enough to prove that he could succeed anywhere. His 107 against Pakistan in 2010-11 was again a top-notch inning.

Controversies:  There is a long list of disputes which are attached to Ryder’s career. In 2008 just after NZ won the series against England while celebrating wildly, he cut his hand trying to break into a toilet in a Christchurch bar. The injury was so severe that it required surgery.

Jan 2009: A drinking session during the series against West Indies, made him miss the training session.

April 2010: He was fined a sum by New Zealand cricket board for his ‘intoxicated and rowdy’ behaviour at a hotel during an indoor cricket tournament earlier that year.

March 2013: The most significant incident occurred in March 2013. On 28th March outside Christchurch bar, he was severely assaulted by four men that left him in the coma for three days with a collapsed lung. His life hung in the balance, everyone at that moment prayed for Ryder.

Jan 2014:  After surviving from near death everyone though Ryder would be a changed man and with some blistering batting against West Indies in January 2014, it was finally thought by fans that they would see him for longer time , however sadly it was cut down when Ryder was found out in 3 late-night drinking incident before test match against India .

After that, the patience of selectors has run out with Ryder, and they dropped him. He played his last test at 27 and final ODI at 29 in Nov 2011 and January 2014 respectively. Now at 33 he is still active and playing very well in the domestic circuit, but the question is again whether he will make another come back ? will selectors show faith in him once again? Or will he never play for Black Caps again?

The big question is whether the lost boy of New Zealand cricket who learned everything in life by himself,  won the test cap and played for the country and won best cricketer award for 2009 will be able to justify his talent or will get unfulfilled. Let’s be soft on him, let’s not judge him for the boy has a tough life and have learned by himself by falling time and again. Let’s give him one chance for New Zealand cricket also needs him.


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