Jesse Ryder took 5-50 to help Essex beat Leicestershire inside two days, once again proving he is ready for an international comeback.
The left-handed all-rounder has not featured for New Zealand since 2012, but has been in fine form this season, helping Essex push for promotion.
Ryder’s career-best figures – and his third five-wicket haul of the season – led Essex to maximum bowling points at Grace Road, and more importantly, victory by an innings and 79 runs. That followed Ryder’s three wickets in the first innings.
The consistency of his exploits with Essex suggest he has matured as a player, and could be ready to return for the Kiwis.
Although he failed with the bat on this occasion, managing 5 off 13 balls, he has made his name in England as one of the strongest six-hitters in the County Championship.
Sadly, much of Ryder’s career has been overshadowed by off-field problems with alcohol and discipline, but since returning from an ‘indefinite’ break from cricket, he has played a pivotal role for the Eagles.
In early 2009, he was dropped from an ODI tour of New Zealand for missing training and a team meeting, but he then went on to score a double-century in a Test against India. He was also exiled from a squad during a series with South Africa.
As late as last year, he was still struggling to put his problems behind him, and was left in a medically-induced coma after an attack outside a nightclub, an incident which subsequently stopped him joining up with the Delhi Daredevils in the Indian Premier League.
Regardless of the fact that he has been in and out of the side, the 30-year-old remains a favourite with New Zealand’s fans, who have rallied for his return, particularly as he may be reaching the tail end of his international career.
Compatriot Neil Wagner was also amongst the wickets for Northamptonshire, though he could not prevent a mauling at the hands of Durham after his side were all out for 83 and 90.
More trouble for Leicestershire
While Ryder and Essex keep one eye on Division One, their defeat of Leicestershire leaves the latter firmly fixed to the root of the second tier.
The thrashing is the latest in what has been an abysmal season for them, and they are already looking ahead to next year.
However, Josh Cobb has signed for Northants on a two-year deal, which implies that Leicestershire will be looking for new recruits over the winter.