New Zealand cricketer Jesse Ryder has emerged from an induced coma and spoken with family members two days after being seriously injured in a brutal attack outside a Christchurch bar. Ryder was also breathing without the aid of the respirator which helped keep him alive after he suffered a collapsed lung during the late-night attack.
Ryder's manager, Aaron Klee, said the 28-year-old Wellington all-rounder had no memory of the attack, which happened as he left a bar in the Christchurch suburb of Merivale where he had been socialising with fellow team members. Police say Ryder was involved in an altercation with two men as he left the bar and again after crossing the road to the car park of a fast-food restaurant. His most severe injuries – a fractured skull and collapsed lung – occurred in the second assault.
Police have charged two men aged 20 and 37 with assault in connection with the attack. They are due to appear in the Christchurch District Court on Thursday.
Klee said medical staff had slowly reduced Ryder's medication on Saturday to allow him to become more responsive. One of his first actions was to make a thumbs-up gesture to a neurosurgeon. He added that Ryder had since spoken to family members, although he was still uncomfortable and drowsy.
"I'm smiling today," Klee said. "We're working through the immediate effects of him being in a coma and the drugs but we are absolutely thrilled with his progress."
Klee said seeing Ryder emerge from the coma was "emotional for us that we were there to see that. Just to see him wake up and acknowledge that you were there and then start asking for people, I guess then you know that he's there.
"We're all pretty exhausted, it's been a pretty difficult few days, but having some wins over the last 24 hours has been a huge relief."
Doctors are now trying to determine the extent of Ryder's injuries. "He had a knock to the head and so they're assessing what sort of damage that may have been done, but at the moment it very much looks like a very bad concussion," Klee said. "He's got a bit of damage to his lungs and that's what they've been most concerned about."
Ryder's last memory, Klee said, was making a first-ball duck against Canterbury in a semi-final of New Zealand's one-day competition.
"He knows where he is, he knows what's happened and he knows I'm talking to [reporters]," Klee said. "He remembers getting a duck, not much after that. This is only the start of the recovery process for Jesse and there is still a big battle ahead to full health, but the progress is positive. If he can recover from these injuries and get back to playing sport I'm pretty sure there's a drive within Jesse that will get him back if he can."
Ryder was due to leave New Zealand on Friday to take up a contract with the Delhi Daredevils in the Indian Premier League. He has not played for New Zealand since February 2012, when he withdrew from international cricket to tackle alcohol and other personal issues. Police, who are not seeking anyone else in connection with the assaults, said Ryder's alcohol intake was not a contributing factor in the assault.