New Zealand star Jesse Ryder in intensive care after assault

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Just a couple of days after the thrilling end of New Zealand’s Test series against England, the sport was stunned by a vicious assault on flamboyant batsman Jesse Ryder. The player is in intensive care with a fractured skull and serious internal injuries.

The incident occurred outside a Christchurch bar. Eyewitnesses say Ryder was assaulted by four men after a night out with his Wellington team-mates. It is suggested that it was a calculated attack on the cricketer. "Four dudes were just laying into him and absolutely smashing him on the ground," a witness said. "His shirt was ripped off and they were kicking him and punching him while he was down."

It’s the latest dramatic event in a troubled career for the player that has seen him drift out of the international set-up due to a drinking problem, disciplinary issues and struggles with fitness. He hasn’t played for New Zealand for a year after breaking team rules about drinking, but was reported to be addressing his problems with the help of a psychologist.

The New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum had intimated that Ryder could be in line for a recall to the international set-up, but Ryder said he wasn’t ready for the one-day series against England in February. The player was looking forward to joining Delhi Daredevils for the Indian Premier League. He now joins Kevin Pietersen and Michael Clarke among the high-profile IPL absentees, although for far more serious reasons.

Twitter messages from New Zealand internationals including Ross Taylor expressed their support. The former England captain Michael Vaughan tweeted: "Devastating news regarding Jesse Ryder. Just hope he can pull through. Thoughts are with him and his family". "We are all shocked by what has occurred and extremely concerned for Jesse,” the chief executive of New Zealand cricket David White said.

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