Jesse Ryder impresses for Essex with bat and ball

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When it was announced that Jesse Ryder was coming to England to play for Essex, the first thought that sprang to mind was probably of some bandana-clad limited-overs blitzing with the bat, and not of a 10-wicket haul in a four-day game.

Nevertheless, as the New Zealander proved last week, he excels with both bat and ball. Kent were the victims, losing five wickets in each innings of their drawn game at Canterbury.

But – according to Essex head coach Paul Grayson – the opening batsman’s maiden 10-wicket haul shouldn’t come as too big a surprise.

Speaking to BBC Essex, Grayson explained: “He’s a smart bowler – skilful, hits the seam and bowls at medium, lively pace.

“He did all the disciplines right in this game and caused the batsmen problems all through the game so I’m really pleased for him.”

And so far, the 29-year-old has been more influential with a ball in his hand, since arriving at Essex. His match figures of 10-110 in last week’s County Championship have now taken him to 17 first-class wickets, claimed at an average of 12.64. 

Wicket-taking at that rate isn’t really maintainable, but for a player not considered a frontline bowler that is a real achievement.

With the bat is perhaps another debate. The opener has thus far averaged just 23 in the four-day game, and 19.25 in the Natwest T20 Blast.

Essex still have 12 more games to play in the group stages of this year’s 20-over tournament, and some big-hitting from the big man could make the difference between elimination and progression. 

Ryder came to England at the end of April, following a torrid time on and off the field of play. Several high-profile drunken incidents have acted as setbacks throughout his international career.

His first foray into the English county game – seven years ago – ended suddenly when Ireland sacked him for not turning up to a game. 

The left-handed batsman then established himself in the New Zealand Test side, but a serious of misdemeanours mean that his last match in the purest format of the game was against Australia in 2011.

That was topped by a medically-induced coma, which was the result of a fractured skull after being assaulted outside a bar in Christchurch. 

Despite all of these controversies, Ryder is still in his twenties, and the all-round form that he is displaying for Essex could potentially lead to another recall.

With the bat, the Kiwi hasn’t yet delivered, and the Eagles are still waiting to be supplied with their first fifty from the overseas player. However, if his bowling continues to be as successful, there shouldn’t be too much discontent with his batting performances.

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