Thursday, 24 March 2011

Sun and shadow

Another lovely day! As Marijke wittily remarked, "Good thing sunny days have remained tax-free - for now." Jane raised an interesting question over breakfast this morning: if fuel is taxed at more than 80p per litre now, how will the government get all that revenue when we're all driving electric cars? Anyway, for the moment, I'll enjoy the Brimstone and Peacock butterflies which occasionally dip into our garden, free as the air.

Well, I would have, had I not heard the old cricketer Geoffrey Boycott's comments about Michael Yardy's depression. His comments frankly made my blood boil. Not only was he very arrogant - "I've been, with respect, a better player" - seemingly unaware of the endless frustration he caused to England supporters by his interminable snail's-paced opening innings! He also showed himself totally lacking in emotional intelligence and empathy. ""I'm surprised, very surprised," he told the 5 Live Breakfast Show. "But he must have been reading my comments about his bowling, it must have upset him... Obviously it was too much for  him at this level. If any blame is attached it's partly to the selectors because, I'm sorry he's not good enough at this level." (Partly? Who else is to blame, Mr Boycott? You don't think he's to blame, surely?)  

Later, when it was pointed out to him that depression is an illness, he tried to excuse himself by saying that he wasn't a doctor and that he'd never had it himself, though he had been upset in 1978 when he'd lost his mother and had the Yorkshire captaincy removed within a couple of days. Then he'd played in Australia "like a lemming". It's clear that he hasn't a clue about the black dog (as Churchill described his depression). Although he's been defended on the grounds that he's an expert on cricket not medicine, he really has no excuse. A serious cricket commentator should have read Coming Back to Me, the brilliant batsman, Marcus Trescothick's autobiography, in which he vividly describes the depression which twice brought him home from overseas test tours, including this harrowing account of India 2006: Marcus Trescothick in India.  

One might "partly blame" the BBC for allowing his comments to reach the airwaves, but in this case I think the responsibility lies squarely on Geoff Boycott's shoulders. In my opinion, his batting was boring, but his broadcasting is plain boorish. It's time for him to be put out to pasture. The BBC have an excellent Yorkshire replacement in the shape of Michael Vaughan, who's well-informed, less opinionated, sympathetic and easier on the ear.  

I have friends who are plagued by depression. They can't "snap out of it", any more than I can pull myself together and walk and talk normally. They can establish a hard-won modus vivendi, but it is hard won, and depression constantly dogs their heels, ready to pounce. I am grieved for them when I hear such ignorant (or as the Times sports correspondent described them, "antediluvian") attitudes expressed and defended in public service broadcasting.

I was pleased to read what Sussex County Cricket Club (David Sheppard's county, by the way) had to say about their captain, “Sussex are very proud of Michael Yardy and very supportive of his decision, not only to come home but also to be prepared to go public with the reasons.

“He’s always been a person admired for his utmost honesty and integrity, and his courage in dealing with this issue emphasises that. As captain and one of our leading players, we’ll give him all the time and all the support necessary so that he can continue to lead this club forward.

"As a club we request that everybody, including both supporters and the media, respects his privacy as he looks to spend some time with his family, having been away for five months. In due course, Michael will make a statement and in the meantime the Club, its members and supporters wish him a speedy recovery." That's more like it.


  1. I don't see what the problem is. Geoff Boycott it telling the truth as he sees it. Yardy isn't good enough and the stress of the situation has proved too much for him.

  2. Well, Lee, you and Geoff Boycott clearly know better than the England selectors, which I don't. The problem is that Boycott pontificated on things about which he doesn't have a clue and in the process contributed to the popular ignorance about mental illness which still hangs around. Have you read the extract from Marcus Trescothick's book? I wonder.

  3. As I understand it, Geoffrey was asked his opinion and he gave it; that's what we Yorkshiremen do.

  4. For cricket, Sussex has always been my County: I wasted many youthful hours at the County Ground. I don't think I've ever had "clinical" depression but oft times I've been down-in-the-dumps which is far from being the same thing.