New Zealand cricketer Jesse Ryder in critical condition after late-night bashing in Christchurch

The 28-year-old middle-order batsman is understood to be in a coma with a fractured skull, a punctured lung, internal bleeding and is in intensive care at a Christchurch hospital.

His family are at his bedside.

A spokesman for the ambulance service that transported Ryder to hospital said he had suffered “very serious head injuries".

The attack came just days before the talented Ryder was to take up a lucrative Indian Premier League contract.

Ryder has a history of disciplinary lapses and alcohol-related incidents, but although he had been drinking before the early morning attack, police said alcohol was not a factor.

Detective senior sergeant Brian Archer said there was a brief altercation involving Ryder and "two or three” people when he stepped outside Aikman’s bar in the Christchurch suburb of Merivale.

Ryder then crossed the road to a nearby fast-food outlet where he was attacked by one of the people from the initial confrontation.

"The hospital advise he is in a critical condition. He is in an induced coma as a result of suffering multiple injuries,” Archer said.

A witness, identified only as Adam, told Stuff.co.nz that Ryder had his shirt ripped off and that several men kicked and punched him as he lay on the ground.

Ryder was found lying in a bush, "shaking, vomiting and covered in blood" in the carpark of a McDonald’s restaurant across the road from the bar.

"His shirt was ripped off and they were kicking him and punching him while he was down."

Adam said he was not sure if the attackers were friends of Ryder, but said they "damn knew who he was”.

The incident occurred while Ryder was having a night out with his Wellington team-mates after earlier losing a season-ending one-day match to Canterbury.

The batsman is on a self-imposed break from international cricket to address "personal issues” following a series of incidents.

New Zealand Cricket Players’ Association chief executive Heath Mills said Ryder was known to have resumed drinking in recent weeks.

"It will be an ongoing struggle for Jesse and we need to do all we can to help him. So it shouldn’t be a surprise if, in the future, we have to deal with isolated issues,” Mills said.

"What I will say is Jesse was having a few drinks with his teammates at the conclusion of his season.

"The actual assault was not an alcohol-fuelled incident.”

Ryder, who last played for New Zealand a year ago, was due to fly out to India this weekend to compete for the Delhi Daredevils, who paid US$ 260,000 for his services at an auction.

Last year, Ryder, who has a Test average of 40.93 and a highest Test score of 201, took his manager and a psychologist with him to India when he played for the Pune Warriors.

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

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