The Plastic Hippo

November 27, 2013

Where did it hit you?

Filed under: Health,Sport,World — theplastichippo @ 3:05 am
Tags: , ,
Mike Gatting image via

Mike Gatting image via

Cricket aficionados might remember the day back in 1986 when Mike Gatting left bits of his skull on the crease at Sabina Park, Kingston Jamaica. Taking the full force of a ferocious Malcolm Marshall bouncer right between the eyes, insult was added to injury as the ball dropped gently onto the wicket and Gatting was out if not quite down. As the batsman was led away for urgent medical attention, the ball was tossed back to the bowler to continue the onslaught. In abject horror, Marshall dropped the ball as he discovered a piece of bone had embedded itself into the leather. At the time, those with more than a passing knowledge of cricket and neurological surgery suggested that Gatting was lucky not to have died.

He was flown back to the UK for treatment and after just three weeks was astonishingly back at the crease facing the ferocious West Indies pace attack in the third test. He was luckier in that innings; only a quick delivery hitting the handle resulted in a broken thumb and it is difficult to shift from the mind the image of Monty Python`s Black Knight shouting; “come back here and I`ll bite your legs off” . Even given his considerable ability with a bat, this derring-do confirmed Gatting as a national hero. Consider then, the return of Jonathan Trott from Australia.

Some years ago, I worked in an environment that, at best, could be described as “competitive” but was, in reality, a bear pit. Idiot bosses without ability or knowledge, encouraged rivalry and animosity between the “team” who could actually do the job believing that this toxic atmosphere would maximise revenue by ripping people off. The constant, invented threat of redundancy kept the wealth generators in their place and so they kept generating wealth for the idiot bosses who lacked ability or knowledge.

As an aside, we received a corporate memo telling us how to answer the telephone. After laughing a lot, the telephone rang and I parroted the memo:
“Good morning/afternoon/evening. This is the (insert name of department here) department at (insert location here). X speaking, how may I help you?”

This febrile, survival of the fittest contest resulted, or course, in casualties. One bloke, an expert in his field, keeled over and was removed via an ambulance. Following a triple heart by-pass operation, astonishingly he returned to his desk after just three weeks. His name will live forever as every time a drone phoned in sick with “a cold” or “food poisoning” or “a bug”, the example of heart surgery would be evoked. Sadly, the company hero died six months later due to a cardiac arrest. As all this madness unfolded, another chap sat at his desk and began to slowly disappear.

As fragile as flesh and bone and a simple pump located somewhere in the chest cavity are, the mind is just as fragile and much more complex. A leg break is relatively easy to fix but when a mind crosses a boundary, it takes more than a third umpire or infra red cameras to make a final judgement. Very few in the office ever mentioned the disappeared chap again. The few that did talked of weakness, lack of motivation, slacking and an absence of backbone as if a heart attack is a badge of courage and depression is a badge of inadequate failure. After about three weeks I went to see the disappeared chap. He remained deeply stressed and tortured as to how to feed his family and pay his mortgage but there was light in his eyes. He was working his way back and this time, he was working for himself.

There are some that suggest depression is a sign of infirmity and a lack of moral fibre and the inevitable calls to “pull yourself together” come from television watchers who will never face a lump of leather coming at your head at 90 plus miles an hour in full view of an array of cameras which can allegedly read your mind. When some boozed up hack files his copy from some hotel bar in Brisbane, the definition of cowardice becomes somewhat blurred. God knows, you would be bloody mental if you were not depressed at what is happening to the national game and bat guano barking crazy if you didn`t worry about what the government is doing to the nation.

Gatting first arrived back from the West Indies with two crossed sticking plasters keeping the remains of his nose attached to his face like a character from the Beano. One on-the-ball journalist asked him; “where did it hit you, Mike?” Trott returned to the UK to find journalists not asking him “where did it hit you?”, but journalists desperate for a photograph and probably following his family around and rummaging in his dustbins. It didn`t take long for these reptiles to forget his magnificent 135 not out at the Gabba in 2010 followed by 168 not out at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

If Gatting`s broken bones made him a national hero, then Trott`s courage in saying enough is enough deserves much, much more.

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