Jesse Ryder has been called fat boy and he’s been accused of being a slogger. This is to his face. The troubled left-hander has survived through abuse that’s a lot worse in his rise to being one of New Zealand's most exciting batsmen.
When you compared Ryder's batting with that of his less successful team-mates on Wednesday, the difference was apparent.
The manner in which Ryder got into position early and yet played late, coupled with the sheer strength with which he attacked the ball, differentiated him from the others. He's the kind of cricketer you often encounter in club matches — sure of himself with the bat, not particularly keen on the quick single and partial to a few cold ones at the end of
But Ryder is no club player. If he gets his head right — and there is every indication he is on the right track — Ryder will end up with a pile of runs and that commodity he so richly deserves — respect. Bowlers in the Indian team are already showing some. Ishant Sharma might have had a heated exchange in the Auckland ODI but the lanky pace bowler was quick to make peace. In Tests as in ODIs (Christchurch) Ryder brought up his maiden international hundred against the Indians. In a sport obsessed with milestones it was important to get there. “It's a good feeling to get there.
I've been close a couple of times before and when Chris Martin got through those five balls I was sweating bullets,” said Ryder at the end of the day's play. “It was important to get through to three figures. When the tail came in I didn't want to throw it away and backed them to see me through, which they did.”
Ryder knows the importance of backing people to do a job, having enjoyed similar support in his time. And when he bats as he did today, you can see why the captain is right behind his player, despite past problems with weight, discipline and alcohol.
“I suppose people look at Jesse as a one-day opener who looks to bash it. They haven't quite seen the subtleties of his game,” said Vettori. “Today he had the ability to leave good balls and put away bad balls. That's what the great batsmen do. They respect good bowlers and they respect guys running in and doing a job.” And that respect is just the kind that is returned in kind at the international level.