New Zealand cricketer Jesse Ryder in critical condition after assault outside bar

Cricketer reportedly set on by four men in Christchurch

The New Zealand cricketer Jesse Ryder is in a critical condition in Christchurch Hospital after suffering severe head injuries in a late night assault outside a bar.

Detective Senior Sergeant Brian Archer of Christchurch Police told a news conference today that it appeared the cricketer had been assaulted twice and suffered the head injuries in the second assault.

Radio New Zealand reported late Wednesday that Ryder was in a coma in the intensive care unit with a fractured skull, punctured lung and internal bleeding.

The hospital refused to confirm Ryder's injuries but said his condition was listed as critical. A spokesman for the ambulance service that transported Ryder to hospital said he had suffered "very serious head injuries"

Archer said police have been studying closed circuit television footage from Aikman's Bar in the suburb of Merivale and interviewing witnesses.

He said Ryder was attacked by "two or three" people as he was leaving the bar and police believe at least two people followed him across the road to the car park of a fast-food restaurant where the second attack occurred. Ryder left the bar with two teammates who were in the restaurant when the attack took place.

Police found no motive for the attacks and alcohol was not considered a factor, Archer said. Up to 10 people may have witnessed the assaults and police were continuing to speak to witnesses.

Eye witnesses previously said Ryder was attacked by four men outside the bar and was punched and then kicked repeatedly while lying on the ground.

Ryder had been at the bar with teammates from the Wellington cricket team, which played in the semifinals of New Zealand's domestic one-day competition in Christchurch earlier Wednesday.

A witness quoted by Fairfax Media said the attack appeared to be unprovoked and Ryder did not appear intoxicated.

"Four dudes were just laying into him and absolutely smashing him on the ground," the witness said. "His shirt was ripped off and they were kicking him and punching him while he was down."

The manager of the bar where the assault took place, Steve Holmes, said Ryder and his teammates had been drinking quietly. He said footage from the bar's security cameras had been provided to police.

"We are just working in conjunction with the police," he said. "The incident has happened off the premises, outside our licensed area. We are just providing support to police."

Ryder was due to leave New Zealand on Friday to play Twenty20 cricket in the Indian Premier League.

Ryder's manager, Aaron Klee, declined to give details of Ryder's condition, but said he was flying to Christchurch to be with the player. Members of Ryder's family, officials of New Zealand Cricket and the head of the New Zealand Cricket Players' Association were also due to travel to the South Island city.

"We are all shocked by what has occurred and extremely concerned for Jesse," New Zealand Cricket chief executive David White said in a statement. "New Zealand Cricket's thoughts are with him and his family."

Ryder last played for New Zealand in a one-day international against South Africa in February, 2012. He was reprimanded after that match for breaking team rules by drinking alcohol while recovering from injury.

Ryder then made himself unavailable for New Zealand selection, turning down a national contract to deal with alcohol and fitness issues. He engaged a clinical psychologist to assist him in dealing with those problems.

The left-handed batsman remains unavailable for international cricket but returned to domestic cricket and played in the IPL last season for Pune.

AP

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