New Zealand Select Ryder: Can He Be Trusted?

Dave HarrisCorrespondent ISeptember 12, 2008

New Zealand's squad for the forthcoming tour of Bangladesh included 17 names across the selections for the Tests and One-Day Internationals, but one name stood out:

Jesse Ryder.

Ryder made his debut in International cricket against England back in February in the One-Day series, and was tipped to become an important part of the Black Caps' tour to the UK this past summer. 

He opened the innings with Brendon McCullum and the two shared some dynamic partnerships at the top of the order.  Ryder rattled up just short of 200 runs in the five match series at an average of 49, with a best of 79*, and looked set to have a bright future.

But Ryder's story doesn't start there.

After garnering something of a "wild boy" image in previous years, 2007 was the start of some more prominent concern about his psychological make-up.

After being overlooked by the national selectors, he felt undeservedly, he refused to take part in a call-up to the training camp that the New Zealand team held prior to the ICC World Cup.  He later signed a contract to play for Ireland in the summer of 2007, and told the selectors that he was not available for selection for the New Zealand A Team's tour to Australia, but his contract with the Irish ended abruptly after he failed to turn up for a game against Surrey.

But even after this, the New Zealand selectors stuck with him, and his call up to the ODI side against England appeared to presage a new dawn for Ryder.  His success was emphasised by the decline of some of New Zealand's foremost players (Fleming, Styris, Astle, Bond) and he seemed set to be a major piece in the country's rebuilding process.

Then came another incident.

Apparently after a night of drinking Ryder was attempting to gain access to a toilet by breaking a nightclub window, and ended up with severed tendons in his hand.

He missed out on the tour to England, and even though he was retained on a central contract for 2008-9, it was uncertain whether he would be considered for selection once his injuries from the incident had healed.

And so we come to today's announcement.

Ryder is in the squad for both Tests and ODIs.  It appears all is forgiven in the hope of unearthing a talent that will provide New Zealand cricket with a new star.

But can he be trusted to behave himself in future?

Ryder himself seems to realise that he's being given an opportunity that might not have come along, having blown his first big break.

"I'm stoked to be given another chance," he said, according to the BBC Sport website. "It's been a long time coming. It was up to them (the selectors) to give me another chance and I'm just happy they did."

His compatriots must hope that he is able to keep himself in check, and that the boredom that seems to affect overseas tours.  Bangladesh has been described as "a challenge", somewhat comically, by New Zealand selector and former Test trundler Dion Nash.  He must hope for the team's sake that the challenge is on the cricket field and not in reigning in the antics of Ryder off the field.

Two of the players left out after featuring in the summer tour to England, James Marshall and Peter Fulton, will be wondering whether Ryder's behaviour is condoned, given that they were exemplary tourists.  Marshall underperformed, but Fulton can probably consider himself unlucky, since he wasn't selected in any of the Tests.

Whilst Ryder's talent is evident, and indeed he performed well during the emerging players' tournament held in Australia, New Zealand's selectors and tour management will no doubt be monitoring his behaviour very closely.

It's rare in sporting circles that you get a third chance when your behaviour creates problems in your first two tries.  Ryder has already earned a reputation for letting his attitude overshadow his talent. It's time now for him to let his talent do the talking.

If he does, he'll prove that New Zealand are right to trust him.