Wellington – Troubled New Zealand cricket star Jesse Ryder was dropped Friday from the squad for the first Test against South Africa but selectors said the move was due to form, and not his latest drinking bout.
The 13-man squad includes Rob Nicol and Andrew Ellis, yet to make their Test debuts, and marks the return of captain Ross Taylor who has been sidelined for nearly six weeks by injury.
The Test starts in Dunedin next Wednesday.
Ryder's exclusion was announced a few hours after he and pace bowler Doug Bracewell were dropped from Saturday's third and final one-day international against South Africa following a drink-fuelled bar incident.
Team manager Mike Sandle said the pair broke team protocols by going out drinking and had “verbally reacted to taunts from the public” about New Zealand's six-wicket defeat in the second ODI in Napier.
Bar patron Brendon Arkwright told the Rotorua Daily Post he had asked Ryder why he was “drinking like you've won the game when you didn't score any runs. He and one of his mates has taken offence to that and gone off on me.”
Ryder, 27, has a Test batting average of 40.93 and an ODI average of 34.37 but his career has been marred by incidents involving alcohol.
Officially Ryder will miss the next ODI as punishment and the first Test because of form, but New Zealand coach John Wright told reporters standards had to be upheld.
“He's a talented cricketer and it's up to him and certainly everyone has the opportunity to play if they perform and are fit and abide by some of the rules that go with being in the team,” he said.
“There are certain standards that have to be adhered to and there have to be consequences.”
Asked if other players should be helping Ryder in social situations, Wright said: “That can be difficult. Most players at that time of night are in bed... the professional ones.”
Meanwhile, New Zealand selection manager Kim Littlejohn said rookies Nicol and Ellis had performed well in the ODI series against South Africa and deserved their Test starts.
“Both Rob and Andrew have shown promise against South Africa in limited overs cricket and we believe they can transfer their form across to the Test matches.
New Zealand: Ross Taylor (captain), Brent Arnel, Trent Boult, Doug Bracewell, Andrew Ellis, Martin Guptill, Chris Martin, Brendon McCullum, Rob Nicol, Tim Southee, Daniel Vettori, BJ Watling, Kane Williamson. – Sapa-AFP