CRICKET star Jesse Ryder remains in a critical condition in Christchurch Hospital after an unprovoked attack in the early hours of Friday morning.
He had left a Merivale bar with 10 to 12 of his Wellington teammates and became involved in an altercation which has left him fighting for his life.
He is in an induced coma with multiple injuries, including a fractured skull.
Aikmans bar owner Steve Holmes had reviewed video footage and told Fairfax NZ that the attack was “completely unexpected”.
He said Ryder was the last of his teammates to leave the bar, and as he was doing so, one of the alleged attackers called out to him.
The batsman went back to talk to him in a civil-looking conversation, before noticing the “body language changed” between the pair.
Ryder walked out of the bar and the other man followed, seemingly yelling at him.
A companion of the man walked out also and there was some pushing and shoving before Ryder walked away.
The pair followed Ryder and attacked him again, before bar staff broke up the fight and stopped the men from going back into the pub.
Ryder staggered over the road to McDonald’s.
Bar staff told the attackers that they were not welcome and went to check on Ryder, only then realising “just how bad it was”.
Holmes said they had “no idea” what started the incident.
“One of the groups was outside and one was inside. There was no altercation until the cricket team left basically,” he told Fairfax.
“No-one was heavily intoxicated, it was just a mediocre Wednesday night.
“We didn’t have security on because it was quiet night of the week and we didn’t need it.
“Obviously the bar sends its best wishes to Jesse’s family over Easter. We wish him a speedy recovery.”
Police say it was the second attack that caused the most serious injuries.
They were still working to discover a motive for the attack, and had not released photos or CCTV footage.
His teammates were in McDonald’s getting food when the attack happened.
Detective Senior Sergeant Brian Archer said Ryder – who has well-documented issues with alcohol – had been drinking, but it was not an aggravating factor in the attack.
About 10 people saw the incident.
Players’ Association chief executive Heath Mills did not think the incident was related his alcohol problems.
“It will be an ongoing struggle for Jesse and we need to do all we can to help him.
”What I will say is Jesse was having a few drinks with his teammates at the conclusion of his season.”
A man who intervened in the fight said he believed Ryder had been ambushed.
Regan Harvey said the attack was unprovoked and described it as a “Jesse hate fight”.
“As I walked out there were a couple of guys beating up this one guy on the ground as they were calling him a wanker,” he said.
One of the attacked did “two massive kicks” into his stomach and rib cage that were so violent it made onlookers “wince”.
He went to the group saying: “I think he has had enough, back off guys.”
“At that stage I was trying to weigh up how fight-ready these guys were, in case they tried to turn on me,” he told Fairfax.
“As far as I can tell Jesse has done nothing wrong here. It looked like it was completely unprovoked,” Harvey said.
Ryder was due to head to India this week to play in the Indian Premier League on a $300,000 contract.
The 28-year-old is in an self-imposed exile from the Black Caps, having not played for them since February last year.
Many of his teammates have tweeted messages of support.