March 2009
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Jrod: The cult of Jesse

March 30th, 2009 by Jrod in New Zealand, Test cricket

If you don’t have time in your life for a new cricketing cult figure, I suggest you don’t watch Jesse Ryder play.

We already know a lot about Jesse. He is a big man, there is no getting around it (pun not intended); he is just large. He makes Samit Patel look like an anorexic French model.

He likes a drink, or 17, and occasionally he takes it too far and gets himself in trouble with bathrooms late at night.

He can bat – seriously bat, and has a technique so uncluttered it looks like a team of reality TV cleaners have just come through.

He is also a man who can laugh when he is on 99*, on the verge of his maiden ton and Chris Martin, the worst batsman in modern cricket, is playing and missing.
This Test has shown us a whole other side to Jesse, one that a lot of New Zealand experts didn’t believe he had.

His raw anger at getting out for 201 was brilliant to watch. He really cares. It may not always shine through the late-night drinking sessions, but instead of being happy with a double-ton, he showed a furious rage that most people only show when they get out for 99.

Forget the boring beefcakes, with their nutritional requirements and early-to-bed routines. Jesse blows them out of the water on the field, and is 10-times more watchable when he does it.

Skill, passion and aura can still trump academy training and cookie-cutter cricketers.
When Jesse is on top, the Kiwis are on top. He has cricket charisma. His team-mates love playing with him as much as we love watching him.

Adam Parore, Jesse’s biggest cynic, wrote that he wasn’t a batting stylist. Never have I heard such blasphemy. While every other new batsman seems to hop around like a coked-up kiddie-show presenter, Ryder is calm and smooth. It’s like Leonard Cohen standing on a stage with Britney, Hayley and Duffy.

On top of it all, the man is bringing the game to the people of New Zealand. Not the normal cricket fans, but the rugby fans that have always thought cricket was a fun-sponge of a game. Jesse is one of them, and he has the ability (along with Prince Brendon McCullum) to bring these new people to the game.

So this big, beautiful man may not just be a cult figure, he could become a cult leader, with a bunch of young New Zealanders in tow. Can’t you just see him in a robe.

Jrod is an Australian cricket blogger. His site won last July’s Best of Blogs in TWC

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