Jesse Ryder stood in a corner as the waiters kept serving other guests around him all kinds of alcohol during a party in Auckland on Tuesday.
He has taken vows of sobriety in the past only to break them and hit the bottle doubly hard. But that was a different Ryder. That was a Ryder before he got what few get in life: a second chance.
The Christchurch bar attack, where he was beaten to the edge of his life 11 months ago, has given the left-handed batsman some much needed perspective.
“Yeah, with the year that I have had, the last year, you can certainly say that there is more to life than cricket,” said Ryder.
“I am pretty chilled out now. In the past, I have let stuff get to me and got angry and beaten myself up. But these days I am a lot more relaxed.”
The incident also helped Ryder find out who his fair weather friends were.
“You know who your friends are when stuff like that happens to you. I have had a lot of good support over the past one year, and the Blackcaps have supported me well. It is really good to be back and involved with the team.”
There is a scar on his left temple, not really prominent but you can see it running right up to his eyebrow. While these wounds were tended to in the hospital, the mental scars were healed on the cricket pitch, the same strip where he walked away from for an indefinite break in 2012.
“I just love the sport, you know. I am enjoying it again. I am just lucky enough to be playing cricket again. A couple of years ago, I stopped playing because I wasn’t enjoying. I think the break did me wonders,” he said.
Ryder, who is considered to be one of the most gifted New Zealand batsmen, admits that he hasn’t achieved what he ought to have so far.
“I know I haven’t fulfilled my potential, but the good thing is that I have time by my side,” said the 29 year old. “And I will make most of it.”
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