When you think of Jesse Ryder, a cricketer who has plenty of international experience under his belt, you wouldn’t usually associate him with the Haka.
Especially as we regularly see the dominant All Blacks perform the traditional war cry and dance before every rugby match in what is one of sport’s greatest and most spectacular sights.
But it’s something that Ryder had to get to grips with after being named in the 12-man New Zealand squad for the recently concluded Indoor Cricket World Cup at Dubai’s InSportz Club.
The fact that the all-rounder, who once represented the Black Caps in all formats on the international stage, made the final cut took most people by surprise when the squads were announced in August – let alone those who witnessed his New Zealand side performing the Haka.
Even more so considering that just three weeks before the global tournament began on September 16, Ryder was on the books of St Lucia Stars and shared the same dressing room with the likes of former Australian all-rounder Shane Watson and World Twenty20- winning captain Darren Sammy at the Caribbean Premier League.
But indoor cricket is something that he has had a close association with from a young age. It was more than 20 years ago since he was first introduced to the game and despite establishing himself in the outdoor version, he still continues to be involved in the indoor scene for the fun of it.
“I started when I was 14 or even younger,” he told Sport360. “I played quite a bit and enjoyed it. If I wasn’t enjoying it, I wouldn’t be playing it. “I had the whole winter off (in New Zealand) and I found that I wasn’t doing much at that time. So I just started playing indoors with my mates and in the end, I ended up playing in the domestic tournaments in New Zealand.
“I think it’s more to do about the social kinds of things. For me, it’s a whole new competition for me and it’s something that I hadn’t played for seven years. It’s been really enjoyable and I love getting back into it.”
Anyone who follows the format will notice that indoor cricket is a completely different ball game to what we see from the elite international cricketers on television.
Played inside nets, matches consist of 16 overs with batsmen batting as pairs for four overs each with different methods of scoring. It requires players to be alert because for each wicket that falls, the team is deducted five runs from their total. Yet, Ryder has shown that he’s more than capable of testing himself in what is a fast-paced game even at the age of 33.
The opportunity of playing in his first Indoor Cricket World Cup (ICWC) in Dubai also whetted his appetite to do something he had never done before with the Black Caps and win a global tournament.
“It’s the first winter I’ve taken it pretty seriously so I was pretty keen to get into the New Zealand squad for this World Cup and get things going,” he said. “When I found out I was selected it was an awesome feeling. It’s always awesome to represent your country. Even more so at an Indoor Cricket World Cup because it was my first time playing in this tournament.”
As much as he was excited to play in another World Cup, the dream of getting his hands on the trophy were dashed at the final hurdle.
The Kiwis went all the way to the championship showdown but for the seventh time in their history, came undone to their nearest neighbours and rivals Australia, losing 94-48 on Saturday.
“We had worked really hard for this and we just had to play our own game. I felt that we were good enough to go the whole way,” he said. Although the indoor version is widely popular among Test-playing nations, it is still played by amateurs, who juggle their passion with full-time jobs. Out of more than 400 players who took to the indoor pitches at InSportz Club over the seven days of the ICWC, Ryder was by far the most high-profile cricketer.
He is a person who has won more than 60 international caps for the Black Caps, and has also donned Royal Challengers Bangalore and Pune Warriors shirts in the most glamorous and extravagant Twenty20 competition in the world – the IPL. But despite making a name for himself, he still feels like a newbie when it comes to playing inside the nets.
“I think I learn off more of my indoor team-mates than anything,” he said. “A lot of them have been playing this game a lot more than what I’ve been playing. I had that seven years off and am still getting back in the shot of things. If people want my help, then I’m more than happy to give my advice.”
He will have to wait at least two more years before he gets another shot at world glory but in the meantime he will continue playing both formats. After all, each has its own benefits in helping raise his own game.
“It could even be the other way round,” replied Ryder on whether the indoor game’s skills helps him for outdoor cricket.
“You learn how to play the ball much later and fielding and reaction time and other things is interesting. It goes both ways but I find that the indoor game helps me with my outdoor game especially when playing with a swinging ball. Personally, it helps me with my outdoor game more than my outdoor game helps with my indoor game.”
It’s been more than three years since he last played for the Black Caps. As a veteran of 18 Tests, 48 ODIs and 22 T20Is, he admits the chances are unlikely he will be able to add to that tally but hinted there’s plenty left in the tank.
“It would be nice but it’s something that’s in the back of my mind,” he said. “I’m happy playing domestically and enjoying my cricket. “I still feel I have heaps of outdoor life in me but not much international, but I’ll still play for my domestic side and continue playing indoors throughout the winter.”
Ben Stokes’ Ashes winter appears to be in jeopardy after England suspended him and Alex Hales from all future international matches until further notice.
The pair will not be considered for selection, the England and Wales Cricket Board has announced, after the governing body saw video footage published on The Sun newspaper’s website which allegedly shows Stokes throwing punches in a street fight.
Test vice-captain Stokes, who was selected in England’s Ashes squad on Wednesday, was arrested on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm after disorder in the Clifton Triangle area of Bristol in the early hours of Monday morning.
Stokes was released without charge later that day but has remained under investigation by Avon & Somerset Police ever since – while Hales returned voluntarily to Bristol on Tuesday to provide further evidence about the incident.
In a statement on Thursday afternoon, the ECB said: “Ben Stokes and Alex Hales will not be considered for selection for England international matches until further notice.
“Each remains on full pay pending further ECB investigation and the ongoing police investigation into an incident in Bristol in the early hours of Monday September 25.
“Andrew Strauss, director of England Cricket, will today refer the internal disciplinary procedure for these two players to the Cricket Discipline Commission, chaired by Tim O’Gorman.
“These decisions, fully supported by ECB Chairman Colin Graves, were made following the release of footage viewed by ECB for the first time on Wednesday night.”
Stokes’ status as vice-captain, as well as his Ashes prospects, therefore appears to be under major threat.
— ECB🏏 (@ECB_cricket) September 28, 2017
Three days on from the incident outside a nightclub at 235am, new detail of reported events also emerged courtesy of journalist and TV presenter Piers Morgan.
A celebrity acquaintance of several cricketers, Morgan claimed in a series of Twitter posts that Stokes found trouble when he went to the aid of two gay men who were being subjected to homophobic abuse.
He wrote: “I’m hearing that Ben Stokes intervened to help two gay guys who were being abused by yobs, one of whom was armed with a bottle.
“Stokes has told friends he was incensed by the homophobic taunts, then saw the bottle being raised & decided to defend himself.”
The ECB named Stokes in its Ashes squad 12 hours before the video was posted by The Sun, confirming his availability despite a broken finger on his right hand and that at that point he retained the Test vice-captaincy, chief support to Joe Root.
Strauss also revealed ECB was initiating its own internal disciplinary investigation, not just into Stokes’ and Hales’ behaviour as they celebrated Sunday’s Royal London Series win over West Indies in Bristol but that of several other players who accompanied them for at least part of the evening.
England have already called batsman Dawid Malan into their one-day international squad following Hales’ confirmed absence from the final match of the summer on Friday at the Ageas Bowl, where the hosts will be bidding to complete a 4-0 victory over the Windies.
They may soon have to consider too who can replace Stokes in Root’s much higher-profile squad due to head down under on October 28.
Under overcast conditions in Bengaluru, India and Australia resumed their rivalry in the fourth game of the five-match ODI series.
The hosts have already captured the series after three comprehensive victories but are looking to become the first Indian side to win 10 one-dayers in a row.
On the other hand, the Aussies were coming into the game on the back of 11 consecutive losses away from home in the format, looking to stem the tide on the backdrop of increasing criticism from all quarters.
Virat Kohli made three changes to the side from Kolkata’s win, with Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami and Axar Patel coming in for Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah and Kuldeep Yadav.
Steve Smith, meanwhile, brought in Matthew Wade for the out of sorts Glen Maxwell and leg-spinner Adam Zampa for the injured Ashton Agar.
— BCCI (@BCCI) September 28, 2017
The Aussie skipper won the toss and elected to bat first on a flat and dry pitch at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium and his decision bore fruit immediately when openers Aaron Finch and David Warner put on a brisk 231-run stand for the first-wicket, the second highest ever partnership for the opening wicket against India.
Warner, playing his 100th ODI, was the aggressor in chief as he brought up his 14th ODI century in just 103 balls after slapping part-timer Kedar Jadhav through the off-side for a boundary.
Finch continued where he left after his century in Kolkata as the Indian bowlers found the going tough against the two Aussies.
The visitors breached the 200-run mark fairly quickly in the 32nd over of the innings. Warner hit four massive sixes before being caught at long-on off the bowling of Jadhav for a well made 124.
— cricket.com.au (@CricketAus) September 28, 2017
His partner fell soon after, six runs short of another century after mistiming a Umesh Yadav’s slower delivery to be caught by Hardik Pandya at mid-on.
Australia suffered a mini-collapse when skipper Smith clipped a Yadav delivery on the pads straight into the hands of his opposite counterpart Kohli to leave the visitors at 3-236 after a strong start.
Yadav, who had been expensive in his opening spell, picked up his third wicket of the day when he had Travis Head caught superbly by Ajinkya Rahane at deep square-leg just before Australia breached the 300-run mark.
100 ODI wickets for Umesh Yadav! India battling back strongly v Australia in Bangalore.
— ICC (@ICC) September 28, 2017
The Indian pacer also completed 100 ODI wickets in the process of picking up those three wickets.
Peter Handscomb delivered some lusty blows towards the end when at one point it seemed Australia would squander the strong start just like they had in Kolkata.
After a 30-ball 43 cameo, he became Yadav’s fourth victim being clean bowled after missing his big slog in the penultimate over of the innings.
A couple of lofty blows from all-rounder Marcus Stoinis in the last over off Mohammed Shami mean that the visitors finished their innings at 5-334 though they would have ideally liked to cross the 350-run mark.