- Born 16 August 1984 Masterton, Wellington, New Zealand
- Educated Napier Boys' High School
- Occupation Professional Cricketer
- Debut 10 May 2007 v Gloucestershire at Castle Avenue
- Cap Number 658
- Style Left hand batsman, right arm medium pace
- Teams Wellington Central Districts, New Brighton, New Zealand, Bangalore Royal Challengers, Pune Warriors
Jesse Ryder will be remembered as - to put it mildly - one of the less fortunate of Ireland's overseas signings. Yet he must also be regarded as one of the major enigmas of our cricket. His career figures reveal a cricketer of tremendous talent who- at the time of writing - has had a highly successful career at Test, First class and ODI levels, both in his native New Zealand, and around the cricket world.
An aggressive upper order batsman, capable of dominating the best attacks and a more than useful medium pacer, he was on the New Zealand selectors' radar from U 19 level onwards, though his career was never free from off field controversy. He also became a target for overseas league sides looking for a professional. In the very season that he performed so poorly for Ireland, he was busy destroying attacks in the Liverpool and District Premier League and, shortly afterwards was to make his presence felt on the Test Match stage.
His first class debut season in New Zealand brought him the first of his - to date - nine centuries and resulted in his being talked of as a Test possible. However what has been called his "wild boy" image, which led to several brushes with authority, counted against him and he was still not a Test player when he arrived in England in the early summer of 2007 as professional for New Brighton in the Liverpool and District Premier League. He began with a century, a vigorous 105 v Fleetwood Hesketh and went on to take 6-18 in the same match, thus achieving, almost single handily a 12 run victory for his new club. He continued in prime form throughout the season, passing 1000 runs, batting at No 3 and hitting three 100s, HS 132, and five 50s in the process. His medium pace was also seen to great effect. Usually opening the attack he took six "5 fors", with a best return of 6-11 against Huyton, in a match in which he also scored 85. He had almost everything to do with New Brighton finishing second in the League table.
His early form for New Brighton, added to the reputation he had already gained in New Zealand - he had, a first class highest a score of 236 to his credit for Wellington against Central Districts at Palmerston North in 2004/05, - made him a seemingly sound choice for Ireland's new coach Phil Simmons to make as the second Irish overseas player for the Friends Provident Trophy. Ireland were already three matches into their campaign and the other overseas "star" fast bowler "Nantjie" Hayward was bowling in a manner which was leading some to wonder if his surname should not begin with a W rather than an H. Most readers will, however, remember that Jesse was to prove a sad disappointment in the matches he played for Ireland.
Against Gloucestershire at Castle Avenue, Ireland faced a total of 248, having allowed their visitors to escape from a score of 94-4, brought about by a Trent Johnston hat trick. Ireland were then routed for 63, a score which would have been much worse but for a valiant 22* from Johnston. Jesse, at 3, lasted 6 balls before his forward defensive push was passed by Australian paceman Ashley Noftke. He did little better or worse than many of his team-mates but it was felt, as Ian Callender noted that he had "much to prove. " He had a further chance three days later when Essex were the visitors to the Clontarf ground. Ireland did much better with the bat. Thanks to Will Porterfield, Kevin O'Brien and Peter Gillespie, they reached a respectable 227-5. Jesse again, however, contributed a solitary single falling to the somewhat ordinary medium pace of Ravi Bopara.
Ian Callender though that he looked "no better than he did on his debut" and thought it a mystery that he was "batting above Kevin O'Brien and even Peter Gillespie." Jesse played the ninth ball he received onto his stumps and, to borrow once more from Ian's match account, "looked a sorry figure as he returned to the pavilion in deafening silence." However, Jesse's Irish career came to an abrupt end with the next scheduled match against Surrey at the Oval on 27 May. Two items were missing from the day. One being any chance of play as rain took over, the other being the presence of Jesse who had, apparently found it impossible to travel from Liverpool. He was, it was reported unable to arrange a flight, the fact that there are good road and passable rail links between Merseyside and the capital having possibly eluded him. His failure to turn up allied to his poor form already shown, decided Phil Simmons to terminate his contract. Few tears were shed in Irish cricket circles and, if anyone did catch some scores from the Liverpool and District Premier League, it must have been with a sense of disbelief.
Yet the following year saw Jesse launched on his international career, his appearance having been delayed, or so some claimed by his off field escapades which were, eventually, to lead to him being put on a final warning by New Zealand Cricket. Injury has also caused him to miss some matches but his current Test and ODI figures are very impressive. At the time of writing (October 2011) he has scored 1211 runs at 44.85 in 16 Tests with three hundreds and six 50s. His ODI record is equally impressive with 1041 runs at 35.89 including two 100s and five fifties. He averages 43.48 in all first class cricket. He also has a clutch of Man of the Match awards in both forms of the international game. His T20 form has been less productive, but he did enough to a highly sought player in the first IPL auctions.
He established himself as both a one day and Test player against India at the end of the 2008/90 season. In the second ODI, at Christchurch, he opened the Kiwis' innings facing a total of 392. He reached 105, playing what Wisden described as a "cutting, thrusting, punching innings" of 72 balls. It was no fault of his that the hosts finished well short of their target. Two more hundreds were to follow in the three match Test series. In the First Test at Hamilton, New Zealand were bowled out for 279, a score which owed almost everything to a stand of 186 for the 7th wicket between Jesse and his captain Daniel Vettori. The slow left armer, batting at 8, had the lion's share of the partnership, making 118.
Jesse, who had come in at 5, was on 77 when Vettori was out but, according to Wisden, "changed patience for power and went for his shots." He reached three figures with the last man at the wicket but then seemed to throw his wicket away, Wisden reporting "cared not a whit when he was caught after skying the next ball." India went on to win by 9 wickets and the next two games were drawn but Jesse was again to the fore in the Second Test at Napier. The hosts batted first and piled up a total of 619-9 before declaring. There were three hundreds in the innings, with Jesse's 201 leading the way. He came in at 23-3 and proceeded to play a masterful innings. Veteran New Zealand cricket writer Don Cameron reported in Wisden that "Ryder better known for his brushes with authority and alcohol than his cover drives, set the record straight." Showing great patience and eschewing all risk but playing commanding shots off either foot and all round the wicket, "He clinically took apart India's bowlers." A lapse of concentration on reaching his double hundred caused his dismissal, but few would have begrudged him that celebratory flash outside the off stump. India had to follow on but Gambhir, Laxman and - naturally - Dravid made the game safe.
Edward Liddle, October 2011