He's played five one-day cricket games for New Zealand, scoring 196 runs at an impressive 49 average and a strike rate of 91 -- and already New Zealand sports fans seem to think they own Jesse Ryder.
What is it with local sports fans and their sense of possession? When tennis hero Chris Lewis refused to play dead rubbers in New Zealand's Davis Cup ties -- after getting New Zealand to the 1982 semifinals -- fans complained he had a duty to play anyway. Similar response when Russell Coutts left an incompetent Team New Zealand to join a more professional outfit that actually wanted to win the Americas Cup. Now we witness fans arguing that Ryder needs to do this and needs to do that ... when in fact the only thing he has to do is to make his own decisions for himself.
Memo to sports fans: you don't own your heroes.
And what about this grating need that administrators have to make champion sportsmen apologise when they have a drink or two -- reading out words written for him that everyone knows he doesn't mean, but wants to hear him say anyway? Sure, he injured himself enough to miss the forthcoming England tour, but there are other senior players who'll be missing games on that tour too, and for some reason reports suggest he wasn't being considered for that tour anyway.
All you need to know about Jesse Ryder is that he's a damn fine batsman who hits the ball hard; a natural talent who won't fit the cookie-cutter mould modern sporting administrators like to fit modern sportsmen into; exactly the sort of un-coached talent who's magnificent to watch, bloody hard to play against -- and who lesser coaches find hard to handle, and often destroy by insisting they conform.
Let the guy alone.