Kiwi cricketer Jesse Ryder critical after attack

New Zealand batsman Jesse Ryder is in a critical condition in hospital after suffering serious head injuries in a fight outside a bar in Christchurch, police said on Thursday.

A Christchurch Hospital spokesperson told local media that Ryder was in intensive care with a fractured skull. Calls to the hospital were not immediately returned.

New Zealand Police said they were investigating an incident at a bar in Merivale, a suburb of Christchurch, early on Thursday and that Ryder had been involved.

Ryder, 28, had left the bar with a group of people when he became involved in the incident, police said in a statement.

Police were called at 12:44 a.m. local time (11:44 British time) and Ryder was rushed to hospital by ambulance.

“We are piecing together what took place and speaking to witnesses to understand how this incident unfolded,” Detective Senior Sergeant Brian Archer said in the statement.

“I would ask anyone who witnessed the incident or were part of the group involved with Mr Ryder to contact police.”

Ryder was in Christchurch playing for Wellington against Canterbury in the semi-final of New Zealand’s domestic one-day competition on Wednesday.

An eye witness told New Zealand’s Fairfax Media that the cricketer had been punched and kicked by at least four men.

“We are all shocked by what has occurred and extremely concerned for Jesse,” New Zealand Cricket chief executive David White said in a statement. “New Zealand Cricket’s thoughts are with him and his family.”

Ryder’s manager Aaron Klee, Cricket Wellington chief executive Peter Clinton and New Zealand Cricket Players’ Association head Heath Mills were all travelling to Christchurch, NZC said.

Radio New Zealand reported on its website (www.radionz.co.nz) that Ryder was in a coma and had a collapsed lung, without naming sources.

The bar’s manager said Ryder had been at the venue with his Wellington team mates, the report added.

Wellington Cricket CEO Peter Clinton declined to comment on the incident or Ryder’s condition when contacted by phone by Reuters, but said police and cricket officials would hold a media conference later on Thursday.

Klee did not immediately return calls, but he wrote on his Twitter page: “thanks for the calls and msgs of support for Jesse. Just heading to Chch to see him”.

ALCOHOL INCIDENTS

Ryder, one of the most gifted batsmen in New Zealand, has been in a self-imposed exile from international cricket after a series of alcohol-related incidents.

In 2008, he needed stitches in his hand after he punched a window in a Christchurch bar, an injury that kept him out of the game for several months.

He has also been in trouble several times for other incidents, one of which involved him turning up to training still affected after a heavy drinking session.

Ryder was reprimanded by NZC last year after he and fellow New Zealand international Doug Bracewell were involved in a verbal altercation with bar patrons in Napier.

Both had missed a match while injured and breached team protocols about abstaining from alcohol.

Ryder has voluntarily stood down from international selection since as he sought to address his issues with alcohol.

He had been expected to travel to India for the lucrative Twenty20 tournament with the Delhi Daredevils on Friday, but was not expected to return to international cricket on New Zealand’s tour of England in May-June.

New Zealand was within one wicket of beating England in their test series that ended in Auckland on Tuesday, with the visitors finishing the match at 315 for nine, chasing 481 for victory. The series ended 0-0.

An aggressive batsmen with a superb eye and delicate touch, Ryder has made 1,269 runs in 18 tests at an average of 40.93 with a highest score of 201 and 1,100 runs in 39 one-day internationals at 34.37. (Reuters)