Jesse Ryder has been given a World Cup lifeline after being selected in the New Zealand ‘A’ team for one-day matches in the United Arab Emirates next month.
The 30-year-old Essex all-rounder has been kept out of the national side after he broke team protocols by drinking the night before a Test against India in February, the latest in a long line of off-field disciplinary issues.
New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum said last week Ryder needed to show form on the field and a willingness to play by the team’s rules off it before being considered for the top team again.
On the pitch, Ryder has responded, smashing a 39-ball century for Otago against Ireland last week, and he says he is willing to conform off it too.
“The passion’s still there to make the team,” Ryder said. “If I didn’t I wouldn’t be in the ‘A’ team so it’s definitely something I want.
“It’s just a stepping stone isn’t it? Hopefully it’s a good one for me. I’ll go over there and just do what I need to do to show that I’m still keen to be a part of it.
“It’s just about slowly getting back involved and obviously this is the first stepping stone towards it.”
Ryder, who had a successful county season withj Essex, said his fitness was not up to the standard he had hoped but that was something else he would work on before the team leaves for Dubai.
While Ryder’s selection had indicated he was still in contention for coach Mike Hesson’s World Cup squad, New Zealand chairman of selectors Bruce Edgar reiterated what McCullum had said earlier.
“I’d remind people that, at this point, Jesse has been selected for NZ ‘A’, nothing more; nothing less,” Edgar said.
“It’s an important step for Jesse but it is only a first step and we’re anxious not to get ahead of ourselves.
“Like everyone else in the squad, his future prospects will depend on his performance, on and off the field, in Dubai.”
Ryder’s inclusion in the squad, however, indicated Hesson is concerned at the make-up of his top order ahead of the World Cup with regular opener Martin Guptill struggling against the pace of South Africa’s bowlers in a one-day series last week.
All-rounder Jimmy Neesham was promoted to open with Guptill in what was seen as a trial of his temperament at the top of the order and he whilst he displayed some positive indicators he also struggled against the Proteas.
Edgar said the ‘A’ tour was the opportunity for several fringe World Cup players to press their claims for the final squad.
“The squad for CWC 2015 is named on 8 January, so we want to ensure every player in contention is given a chance on the international stage,” Edgar added.
“We need to know we’ve left no questions unanswered.”
The New Zealand ‘A’ team will play World Cup teams Ireland, the UAE and Afghanistan in four one-day matches in Dubai that will dovetail with the limited overs series the top side is playing against Pakistan in the Middle East.
New Zealand face Pakistan in three Tests, two Twenty20 internationals and five one-day matches on their November 3-December 20 tour with matches in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah.
The World Cup runs from February 14-March 29 in New Zealand and Australia.