NZ cricketer Jesse Ryder still critical, one held for assault


March 29, 2013

WELLINGTON: Police say they have charged a 20-year-old man with assault in connection with a late-night attack on New Zealand cricketer Jesse Ryder, who remains in critical condition.

March 29, 2013

WELLINGTON: Police say they have charged a 20-year-old man with assault in connection with a late-night attack on New Zealand cricketer Jesse Ryder, who remains in critical condition.

A Christchurch Hospital spokesman said Jesse Ryder's condition had not changed overnight.

Detective Senior Sergeant Brian Archer announced the development at a news conference in Christchurch on Friday, saying police were following "positive lines of inquiry" in their search for other persons.

"The investigation is continuing … we are still working on it," Archer said.

The arrested man will appear in the Christchurch District Court on Thursday.

Ryder remained in an induced coma with critical injuries on Friday morning after the seemingly unprovoked assault just a day before he was due to leave New Zealand for another season in the lucrative Indian Premier League.

A Christchurch Hospital spokesman said Ryder's condition had not changed overnight.

Police said Thursday they had been unable to establish a motive for a late-night assault outside a bar, which left Ryder with a fractured skull and punctured lung. Family members asked that details of other injuries suffered by the cricketer were not made public.

The bar in Christchurch outside which Jesse Ryder was first assaulted

At a news conference Thursday, Detective Senior Sergeant Archer said Ryder was attacked twice in quick succession as he left a bar shortly after midnight with teammates from Wellington who were in Christchurch for a domestic cricket match.

He was first assaulted by "two or three" people outside the bar and was then followed across the road to the car park of a fast food restaurant where the second and more serious assault took place, Police said.

Messages of support and hope flooded in from cricketers and fans around the world. The incident has appalled New Zealanders, including Prime Minister John Key.

The 28-year-old Ryder has fought a high-profile battle with alcohol and his international career has been punctuated by disciplinary problems. He has made himself unavailable for the New Zealand team since February, 2012, withdrawing from international cricket to tackle alcohol and fitness issues and other personal problems.

While Ryder hasn't spoken publicly about those issues, friends say he'd turned his life around in the past 12 months.

But the head of the New Zealand Cricket Players' Association, Heath Mills, said Thursday after quitting alcohol, Ryder had begun drinking again in recent weeks. Mills said steps had been taken to provide support for the cricketer.

"He has drunk some alcohol over the last three or four weeks at one or two events," Mills said.

"When we became aware of that we tried to reinvigorate the support we've had around him.

"We all know Jesse has struggled with some demons … It has been made very clear to us by police that Jesse was having a few drinks with his team mates at the conclusion of their season … but the actual assault was not alcohol-fuelled.

"There has been a support program around Jesse in the last week while, and some well-qualified medical people have been supporting him. I know of specific instances where Jesse has been drinking, but I'm not willing to comment on that."

Police were adamant Thursday that although the Wellington players had been at a licensed premises during the evening, there was no evidence at this stage to suggest that alcohol was a contributing factor to the assault.

The New Zealand media quoted witnesses as saying the assault on Ryder appeared to be unprovoked and one, Regan Harvey, described the incident as a "Jesse-hate fight."

"As I walked out there were a couple of guys beating up this one guy on the ground," Harvey told Fairfax media. "As far as I can tell Jesse has done nothing wrong here. It looked like it was completely unprovoked."

Archer said police had interviewed witnesses and were investigating.

"We believe at least 10 or more people have witnessed some of the events," he said. "There are CCTV cameras in the area and we're going through the process of downloading and reviewing that footage so we can have a clearer picture of what has taken."

Police had established what they believe was the sequence of events around the assaults, Archer said.

"An altercation has taken place on the footpath outside Aikman's (bar) involving Jesse and a group of at least two other males," he said. "The altercation was brief."

Archer said following that incident, Ryder and two other people walked toward a McDonald's restaurant where some of his teammates had been buying food.

Merivale McDonalds, scene of the attack on the New Zealand batsman Jesse Ryder

"A second altercation has taken place at the entrance to the McDonald's car park, involving one of the males from the earlier group," he said. "In that incident it appears Jesse has been the victim of a serious assault and has suffered head injuries as a result."

The New Zealand prime minister was among those who expressed distress at the attack on Ryder.

"It sounds quite sinister to me," Key said, "I mean the fact that there would be four guys attacking him."

Initial reports said Ryder was attacked by up to four men but police have since reduced that number.

New Zealand Cricket chief executive David White said in a statement: "We are all shocked by what has occurred and extremely concerned for Jesse."

Many leading cricketers used Twitter to express their concern for Ryder.

West Indies star Chris Gayle posted in a Twitter message: "Will have Jesse in my prayer. Pray for Jesse. Let's hope he gets better soon."

Former England captain Michael Vaughan tweeted: "Devastating news regarding Jesse Ryder. Just hope he can pull through. Thoughts are with him and his family."

Ryder was due to leave New Zealand on Friday to take up a $260,000 contract with the Delhi Daredevils in the Indian Premier League. He has played 18 tests for New Zealand, scoring three centuries and six half centuries with a top score of 201 against India.

Courtesy: AP