Critically injured cricketer Jesse Ryder remains in an induced coma in Christchurch Hospital with a fractured skull and collapsed lung, after an attack early on Thursday morning. His family is at his bedside.
Christchurch police say the international player was involved in an altercation outside a bar moments before being seriously assaulted in a car park in the Christchurch suburb of Merivale about 12.30am.
More details of the attack emerged at a news conference in Christchurch on Thursday afternoon, with police, New Zealand Cricket and the Players Association.
Detective Senior Sergeant Brian Archer says Ryder was socialising with his Wellington Firebirds' team-mates at Aikmans bar in Merivale before becoming involved in a brief altercation with two or three men on the footpath outside.
Soon after that, he and his team-mates walked across the road to a McDonald's carpark.
Ryder was near the back of the group when one of the men from the first incident assaulted him.
An eyewitness, Emma Fergusson, says Ryder was attacked as he left the bar.
"So I could see him being beaten up by three or four guys; they were you know punching him what not. They had him on the ground and then you could literally hear the impact of them kicking him very, very hard. It was very brutal, like I couldn't believe it when I saw him get back to his feet."
Ms Fergusson says Ryder stumbled away from his attackers, then fell and started vomiting and shaking.
She says ambulances arrived soon after. Ryder was taken to Christchurch Hospital's emergency department.
Mr Archer told Checkpoint police have yet to identify any of the attackers but they're calling for them to come forward.
"We have a positive line of inquiry. I think the media attention is also going to come across their bows and I wouldn't be surprised if they come forward and say this is our group, and give an explanation."
Mr Archer says they believe four people were involved in the attack.
He says police are going through CCTV footage and have descriptions of the attackers. They have at least 10 witnesses to the assault and are urging them to come forward.
St John Ambulance says it was called to Papanui Road at 12.34am and took a man with very serious head injuries to hospital.
The manager of Aikmans Bar has confirmed CCTV cameras were filming the premises at the time.
Steve Holmes says he has reviewed the video footage but would not confirm whether it showed an attack.
Prime Minister John Key says he was shocked by the news of the "vicious" attack.
Players Association's chief executive Heath Mills says the cricket community is in shock.
He says he's been inundated by messages from members of the cricket community all around the world, concerned for Ryder's wellbeing.
Mr Mills says Ryder remains in a critical condition in Christchurch Hospital.
Ryder's manager Aaron Klee is at the hospital, along with Jesse's immediate family.
Mr Mills says he was aware that Ryder had resumed drinking in the past several weeks but says it was unrelated to the assault.
"It's been made very clear to us by the police today that Jesse was having a few drinks with his team-mates at the conclusion of their season, in Aikman's Bar. The actual assault was not an alcohol-fuelled incident."
A message from the Black Caps on social media said the whole team's thoughts were with their fellow player.
Last month Ryder was picked up in the Indian Premier League player auction and was due to take up a $308,000 contract with the Delhi Daredevils shortly.