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Cricket: First arrest over assault on Kiwi star Ryder

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

New Zealand police Friday said they had arrested one man and were looking for another in connection with an assault that left cricket star Jesse Ryder in a critical condition in hospital.

Ryder was attacked by a group of men as he left a bar in the South Island city of Christchurch early Thursday morning and was rushed to hospital with a fractured skull and other internal injuries.

Hospital authorities said Friday his condition had not improved overnight.

Police said they had interviewed a 20-year-old and charged him with assault and were "following a positive line of inquiry in relation to another person".

Although Ryder has a history of alcohol-related incidents and had been drinking before he was attacked, police have said alcohol was not a factor in the incident.

Closed-circuit television footage showed the 28-year-old Ryder shaking hands with one of his alleged attackers moments before the fight started, according to bar owner Steve Holmes.

Holmes told Fairfax Media after reviewing the footage that the assault was "completely unexpected".

He said Ryder, who had been drinking with his Wellington team-mates after losing a season-ending match against Canterbury, was leaving the bar when one of the attackers called out to him.

Ryder went back to talk to the man and the two appeared to chat before shaking hands, Holmes said.

After a few minutes he said the "body language changed" between the two. Ryder walked out of the bar and the man followed him, seemingly yelling after him.

"There was no altercation until the cricket team left basically," he said. "No-one was heavily intoxicated, it was just a mediocre Wednesday night."

Regan Harvey, who witnessed the assault and has given a statement to the police, believed Ryder was the target of an unprovoked "Jesse hate fight".

Harvey was drinking at the bar when he heard the fight erupt.

"As I walked out there were a couple of guys beating up this one guy on the ground" and one of the attackers gave "two massive kicks" into Ryder's stomach and rib cage, he said.

Ryder is on a self-imposed exile from international cricket while he addresses "personal issues" and has rejected calls to return to the New Zealand team despite an outstanding domestic season.

He last played for New Zealand a year ago in a one-day match against South Africa.

He was dropped for the next game when he breached team protocols and went drinking in a bar where he verbally reacted to taunts from a member of the public, New Zealand Cricket said.

Ryder was due to fly to India this weekend to compete for the Delhi Daredevils in the lucrative India Premier League.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130328/cricket-first-arrest-over-assault-kiwi-star-ryder