An exceptional striker of the ball and an epitome of lazy elegance, Jesse Ryder's cricketing career was full of ups and downs. His short arm pulls to his nonchalant pick-up shot was a sight to behold but his life off the field was far from an ideal one.
The cricketer who celebrated his 39th birthday on Sunday, August 6, had a challenging childhood. He was abandoned by his separated parents and had to spend most of his time on the couches of his neighbourhood friends.
Ryder's drinking problems continued through his adult life but during his brief international career, the robust strokemaker made heads turn and people take notice of his abilities. On his day, he could destroy any attacks.
His international career spanned from 2008-2011 and in that phase, he played a match-winning role in a few matches across formats. He could bowl dibbly-dobbly medium pacers besides being a terrific fielder at the point region.
On the eve of his birthday, let us recalls three of his best knocks in international cricket:
#1. 104 vs West Indies at Queenstown in 2014 (ODI)
While this match is remembered for Corey Anderson's 36-ball century, not many recall that Jesse Ryder also struck an exceptional century during this encounter.
In a match reduced to 21 overs due to persistent rain, New Zealand posted a massive 283 on the back of centuries from Ryder and Anderson. Treating the game as a T20, Ryder came out firing all cylinders and toyed with the West Indies bowling lineup.
It was clinical hitting and even his mere pick-up and flicks went the distance. It was carnage on display which finally came to an end when Jason Holder had his number. It was just the start as Anderson continued the carnage but undoubtedly the platform was set by Ryder. On the back of his century, New Zealand eventually went on to win the game convincingly by 159 runs.
#2. 201 vs India at Napier in 2009 (Tests)
One of Jesse Ryder's best performances came against India during the Napier Test back in 2009. On the back of his stupendous double century, New Zealand posted a massive first-innings score.
The hosts couldn't quite force a victory as Gautam Gambhir played a stellar knock for the Indians in the 2nd innings to salvage a draw. New Zealand were reduced to 23/3 in the first innings and required the brilliance of Ryder to bail them out of trouble.
He took his time initially but when set, he started thrashing the Indian bowlers all around the park. A sensational partnership with Ross Taylor turned the match on its head as New Zealand posted 619 in their first innings.
Ryder looked dismissive in the second half of the innings and there was no way the Indians could stop him. His knock of 201 was studded with 24 fours and a six.
# 107 vs Pakistan at Auckland in 2011 (ODI)
Another occasion when Jesse Ryder displayed his power-hitting abilities was during the sixth ODI against Pakistan in Auckland back in 2011. His blistering century helped New Zealand post 311 before the bowlers held their nerves and handed New Zealand a comfortable victory.
Ryder came in at No. 3 at the fall of Brendon McCullum's wicket. He looked in complete control from ball one and continued his free-flowing batting style all through the innings. His pick-up shots was a thing of brilliance and the Pakistan bowlers left scratching their head. He was eventually dismissed for 107 off a mere 93 deliveries, an innings that was laced with seven fours and six sixes.
It was clean hitting from the southpaw and his match-winning knock also earned him the Player of the Match.