New Zealand's Jesse Ryder excited to switch codes - and roles - at Indoor Cricket World Cup
Often courting controversy as a Black Caps star, the all-rounder is now ready to mete out fines for indiscretions within his team at the Dubai tournament.
Given his size, both physically and in terms of profile, Jesse Ryder seems like a natural enforcer. As such, his role within the New Zealand indoor cricket tour party is apt.
Each of the players have been assigned duties while in Dubai for the Indoor Cricket World Cup, which starts with a fixture against the UAE at Insportz, Dubai on Saturday.
Ryder, the former New Zealand Test batsman who is the competition’s most high-profile player, is in charge of meting out fines for indiscretions. The more spurious the better.
After the best part of a week preparing for Saturday’s opening match, he says he has yet to pounce on anything too outlandish.
The players are tasked with looking after small, plastic toy figures. If they do not have them on them at any point, it is a crime fit for punishment.
“We have these little dudes that we have to carry around with us,” Ryder said, producing the trinket from the pocket of his training shorts. “If they don’t have them on them, they get fined.
“There is other silly stuff like that, but no real good ones as yet. I’m waiting for something really good to get the boys with.”
Being the head of the disciplinary court seems a case of poacher turned gamekeeper for a player who has not always had a spotless reputation for toeing the party line.
Ryder's 104 against West Indies
Once seen as the future of New Zealand cricket, Ryder is 33 now. He has been out of the Black Caps team for the past three years, and is honest enough to acknowledge a return any time soon is not on the radar.
“It is at the back of my mind, but the first focus is this comp, then I’ll go back and play for Central Districts,” he said. “It is not really a focus for me at the moment. If it comes about, it comes about.
“If I lost love for the game, I wouldn’t be playing it. The big key for me is enjoyment. As long as I’m enjoying it, I’ll continue playing it.”
Ryder takes a stunning catch
He seems delighted to be part of the indoor cricket set up. He first started playing senior men’s indoor cricket when he was just 14, at home in Napier.
He jumped at the chance to return to the format when offered a place in the World Cup squad this summer, despite having the best part of seven years away from it.
“Obviously outdoor is my No 1, but I do enjoy the indoor game and I really think it helps with my game,” he said. “It teaches you how to play the ball later, and really sharpens your fielding because of the reactions you need in the front court.
“I also find it helps how you play swing bowling, because the yellow ball swings so much.”
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The set up cuts quite a contrast to what Ryder is used to. The all-rounder has played Test cricket, as well as in the Indian Premier League and the county game. Most recently, he was at the Caribbean Premier League, the self-styled “biggest party in cricket”.
The unprepossessing streets of Al Quoz industrial estate could not be much further from the glitz of the international game.
Insportz, though, is best not judged on its exterior. Inside, the courts look spruce, the result of a hefty investment made in order to bring the World Cup here.
And you get the impression Ryder could not be happier just being one of the boys at a tournament in the desert otherwise peoples by amateur players.
“It is pretty chilled,” he said with a smile. “They have had new courts put in. Everywhere you go, indoor cricket doesn’t change. You are always in an old shed out somewhere.
“I’m really looking forward to getting the World Cup under way. They’re a great bunch of lads, and if we play to our potential we should hopefully go the whole way.”
Updated: September 14, 2017 05:23 PM