Battered New Zealand cricketer Jesse Ryder was showing signs of improvement and gave family the thumbs-up as police charged two men with assaulting the batsman in a savage beating.
Ryder was attacked by a group of men as he left a bar in Christchurch early Thursday, and was rushed to hospital in a critical condition where he was placed in an induced coma.
His manager Aaron Klee said Ryder was responsive and had given the thumbs-up to medical staff and members of his family who rushed to be at his bedside.
Ryder remains in an intensive care unit in a stable condition and requires help with breathing because of an injury to his lung while the extent of his head injury has yet to be determined.
His mother Heather and his partner Ally thanked people around the world for sending messages of sympathy and police for arresting “people responsible for the heinous crime committed on our Jesse”.
“Jesse will be chuffed knowing how many people care and have reached out, including the huge number of cricket fans and players from around the world,” they said in a statement. “We have read many of the messages online over the past 24 hours and we are keeping them for Jesse to read when he recovers.”
Police said they had charged a 20-year-old man and a 37-year-old relative of his with the assault and they would appear in court next Thursday.
“Two or three” people attacked Ryder as he left a bar and then resumed the assault when the injured player made his way to the car park of a fast-food outlet across the road.
Closed-circuit television footage showed the 28-year-old Ryder shaking hands with one of his alleged attackers moments before the assault started, according to bar owner Steve Holmes.
Holmes said after reviewing the footage that the assault was “completely unexpected”.
He said Ryder, who had been drinking with his Wellington teammates after losing a season-ending match, was leaving the bar when one of the attackers called out to him. Ryder went back to talk to the man and the two appeared to chat before shaking hands, Holmes said.
After a few minutes he said the “body language changed" between the two. Ryder walked out of the bar and the man followed him, yelling after him.