Wellington - Former New Zealand batsman Jesse Ryder has recovered from a vicious assault and is eager to resume playing cricket, hoping that a move to Otago from Wellington will reinvigorate his international career, his manager said on Thursday.
The burly left-hander was beaten up outside a Christchurch bar in March, an attack that left him in a coma with a fractured skull. Two men were charged with assault and have pleaded not guilty.
The 28-year-old, who has stepped back from international cricket following a well-publicised battle with alcohol and disciplinary problems, will move from Wellington to link up with his former coach Vaughn Johnson at Otago.
"At some point, Jesse needs to get back into international cricket," Ryder's manager Aaron Klee told the Otago Daily Times. "He just needed some time to sort himself out.
"We're getting close to that point.
"After what happened in Christchurch, we realised there wasn't much point sitting around. It's time to get back on the horse and get the career charging again.
"All going well, it won't take him that long to get back into international cricket."
Klee said Ryder had been working hard on his fitness since he was discharged but was still suffering some effects of the head injury.
He had also spoken to New Zealand coach Mike Hesson about his future.
"He's going to need to perform, firstly," Klee said of the aggressive batsman, who has made 1 269 runs in 18 tests at an average of 40.93 with a highest score of 201. In 39 one-day internationals, Ryder has scored 1 100 runs at 34.37.
"We all want to see some consistency and stability from him.
"He met with Mike Hesson for a good talk last week. We've maintained communication with the Black Caps right through this hiatus."
Ryder started his first-class career with Central Districts before he moved to Wellington in 2004, where he was mentored by Johnson, who also spent time as an assistant with the New Zealand set-up before he took up the Otago job in 2011.
"First and foremost it is fantastic that Jesse is ready to play cricket again and I am delighted that he has decided he wants to do that in Otago," Johnson said in a statement.
"I think our environment down here will assist Jesse to get back to his best so that New Zealand cricket fans get to see him back in the black shirt before too long."