WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand cricketer Jesse Ryder has emerged from an induced coma and spoken with family members two days after being critically injured in a brutal attack outside a Christchurch bar.
Ryder's manager Aaron Klee said medical staff at Christchurch Hospital had gradually reduced sedative medication, allowing Ryder to regain consciousness. He was also breathing without the assistance of respirator which helped to keep him alive after he suffered a collapsed lung in the late night attack.
Klee said the 28-year-old Ryder had no memory of the attack which occurred as he left a bar in the Christchurch suburb of Merivale where he had been socializing with fellow members of the Wellington cricket team.
Police say Ryder was involved in an altercation with two men as he left the bar and again after crossing the road to the carpark of a fast food restaurant. His most severe injuries — a fractured skull and collapsed lung — occurred in the second assault.
Police have charged two men aged 20 and 37 with assault in the connection with the attack on Ryder. The men are due to appear in the Christchurch District Court on Thursday.
Klee said medical staff had slowly reduced Ryder's medication on Saturday to allow him to become more responsive. One of his first actions was to make a thumbs up gesture to a neurosurgeon.
Klee said Ryder had since been able to speak to family members, although he was still uncomfortable and drowsy.
"I'm smiling today," Klee said. "We're working through the immediate effects of him being in a coma and the drugs but we are absolutely thrilled with his progress."
Klee said seeing Ryder emerge from the coma was "as emotional for us that we were there to see that. It happens quite quickly once they start changing the level of drugs.
"Just to see him wake up and acknowledge that you were there and then start asking for people I guess then you know that he's there.
"We're all pretty exhausted, it's been a pretty difficult few days, but having some wins over the last 24 hours has been a huge relief."
Klee said doctors were now trying to determine the extent of some of Ryder's injuries.
"He had a knock to the head and so they were assessing what sort of damage that may have done, but at the moment it very much looks like a very bad concussion." he said.
"He's got a bit of damage to his lungs and that's been the toughest part and that's what they've been most concerned about.
"Naturally we are absolutely thrilled with the progress."
Klee said Ryder's last memory was of making a first ball duck for Wellington against Canterbury in a semifinal of New Zealand's domestic one-day competition.
"He knows where he is, he knows what's happened and he knows I'm here now talking to (reporters)," Klee said.
"He remembers getting a duck, not much after that. This is only the start of the recovery process for Jesse and there is still a big battle ahead to full health, but the progress is positive."
Klee said he hoped Ryder would eventually return to top-level cricket.
"If he can recover from these injuries and get back to playing sport I'm pretty sure there's a drive within Jesse that will get him back if he can," he said.
Ryder was due to leave New Zealand on Friday to take up a $260,000 contract with the Delhi Daredevils in the Indian Premier League. He has not played for New Zealand since February, 2012 when he withdrew from international cricket to tackle alcohol and other personal issues.
Police, who are not seeking anyone else in connection with the assaults, said alcohol was not a contributing factor.