Troubled New Zealand cricketer Jesse Ryder has been rushed to hospital with a fractured skull following a bar brawl, police and media said Thursday.
The attack came just days before the talented Ryder was to take up a lucrative Indian Premier League (IPL) contract.
Police said in a statement they were investigating the early morning incident at a bar in Christchurch and "can confirm the incident did involve Jesse Ryder and that he is currently in Christchurch Hospital".
Ryder, who has a history of disciplinary lapses and being involved in alcohol-related incidents, was with members of his Wellington provincial side who had earlier been beaten by Canterbury in a 50-over match.
Reports said he was in intensive care.
Fairfax Media quoted witnesses saying Ryder tried to fight back as four men "absolutely smashed him".
A man identified only as Adam, who was drinking in the bar at the time, said he was not sure if the attackers were friends of Ryder, but said they "damn knew who he was".
Ryder's family was reported to be flying to Christchurch to be at his side and New Zealand Cricket tweeted: "The whole NZC team's thoughts are with @DijaRyder this morning."
The 28-year-old Ryder is on a self-imposed break from international cricket to address "personal issues" following a series of incidents.
However, he was continuing to play in the IPL and was due to fly out to India this weekend to play for the Delhi Daredevils who paid US$260,000 for his services at an auction.
Last year, he took his manager and a psychologist with him to India when he played for the Pune Warriors.
Ryder has a Test average of 40.93 and a highest score of 201.
He last played for New Zealand in an one-day international against South Africa in February last year.