An injury free, fit Jesse Ryder is much like the Loch Ness monster; there have been many supposed sightings, but, in the end, they always turn out to be nothing more than a cruel hoax.
Five weeks after tearing a calf muscle, Ryder is back in the thick of the action in tonight’s 20/20 decider against South Africa.
Reputedly, he has never worked harder. Five weeks of blood, sweat and tears, and here he is, fitter and stronger than ever, keen to show his wares. He’s lost weight, and, in John Wright, gained a mate. An improved attitude has overcome the twenty-six year olds disposition, leading to a spiffy new clean slate.
Gone, it seems, are the bad old days, where, without a moments notice, an innocent window pane could have its confidence shattered in an unprovoked attack. Or that he would arrive at training inebriated from the effects of the previous night’s alcohol consumption.
Yes, the lad’s growing up. After having the hard word put on him from New Zealand Cricket, the penny finally dropped. If Ryder wanted to be part of the Black Caps, he had to shape up or ship out. Thankfully for fans of the game, the Wellingtonian chose the former before father time passed him by.
And, after all, everyone deserves a second chance in life. It’s not like he’s the only person to have made a mistake.
No one expects him to be saint.
Razor blade thin, he does not need to be. It’s not like cricket is played in countries where he is required to be the shape of a matchstick to slot through customs. There is no need for him to abstain from alcohol entirely, or from enjoying life. The only requirement needed is to conduct himself in the manner with which any member of society would be expected to. And remember that his income is derived from New Zealand Cricket who in turn gathers their revenue from sponsors, not to mention the paying public.
In other words, respect the hand that feeds. Which he now seems to be doing.
The thought of one so talented wasting an opportunity to obtain his plentiful potential does not bear pondering.
With this new attitude, now is the time for him to show his gratitude with a continuation of the hard graft, not to mention putting runs on the board. He has already showed he is heading in the right direction, having plundered some hapless provincial attacks over the last couple of weeks in the domestic competition.
Tonight, though, he’s back in the big time, up against the might of a South African side with some seriously heavy artillery to fire in his direction. But Ryder has shown in the past that he can handle the best of bowling attacks.
There is nothing he likes more than to erase his faminousness on a veritable feast of so called delicacies inhabiting the real or imagined armouries of the invaders of his sacred domain, cracking open the epidermis of the bowler’s mindset with his often thundering, intimidatory batting presence as he takes an intoxicating path towards redemption, scything his way towards the epicentre of his potential, cultivating a surreal sense of self-belief within his own mind.
And there couldn’t possibly be a better time to allay that hunger for runs at the top level, than at Eden Park, tonight.