Batting legend opens a new innings

darkness tunnel

lightpinprick2Batting legend opens a new innings

September 30 2011 at 12:24pm


Dominic Barnardt

KNYSNA, SOUTH AFRICA – APRIL 24, Barry Richards and Wessel Witthunn during the Castle Lite pre-dinner drinks on April 24, 2010 at the Simola golf resort in Knysna, South Africa. Photo by Dominic Barnardt / Gallo Images

BARRY Richards was the kind of genius who always found the game pretty easy. Life, however, has proved a more difficult opponent.

Last week, Richards paid a brief visit to the city of his birth and spoke about his family tragedy, his new life in South Africa, the forthcoming visit of Australia and the game he loves.

For a man blessed with such talent, life has not been easy for Richards. Because of apartheid, he only played four Tests for his country in that much-remembered Australian tour from January to March 1970. In those four matches, at Newlands, Kingsmead, The Wanderers and St George’s Park, he scored 508 runs at an average of 72.57, including two centuries and two 50s. His scintillating 103-run third wicket partnership with Graeme Pollock in Durban will always be cherished by those who saw it and given a glowing place in the history of the game.

Then, almost as soon as the flame was lit, it was extinguished by the international sports boycott, snuffing out what would surely have been a glittering international career.

For however much onlookers may have marvelled at his prodigious feats in domestic cricket for Natal, South Australia and Hampshire, as well as in Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket, the most exacting assessment of a cricketer’s ability comes at Test level and this was a challenge that was largely denied him.

Just over two years ago, a family tragedy occurred that overwhelmed that cricketing disappointment. One of his sons, Mark, who had been diagnosed with a bi-polar condition, committed suicide.

Sep 1979: Barry Richards batting during the Courage challenge cup at the Oval In London. Photo Credit: �Adrian Murrell/Allsport/Touchline Photo


“It was a traumatic experience, I wouldn’t wish that on anybody,” Richards acknowledged. That, and the fact that he was already separated (soon to be divorced) from his Australian wife, Ann, meant that the past few years of his life had, in his own words, been “extremely difficult”. He admitted also that his relationship with his remaining son, Steve – now 27 and living in Perth – was a work in progress.

“Ann has a new partner whom I’ve met; she’s happy now and at least we’re talking again. Steve has been a little more reticent and I’ve got work to do to get back in.”

I asked Richards if Steve had inherited any of his talents.

The answer, accompanied by a smile, was an emphatic no.

“I’ll never forget that when he was about 13 he came to me and said: ‘Dad, do you mind if I retire?’ I replied that of course he could and he asked me with a mystified air how I had managed to stand in the sun for six hours on so many occasions throughout my career.

“Steve has always loved the water and he’s an excellent surfer. He was always a good swimmer.”

Richards remarked that Steve had just undertaken a week-long charity bicycle ride of 600km over rough terrain to raise money and profile for an organisation called Youth Focus which tackles youth suicide and depression in Perth.

The ride coincided with the date when Mark died two years before. Richards himself has organised a golf day in Cape Town on November 5 that will include Australian and Proteas players which will raise money for the same organisation. Since his divorce and the death of Mark, Richards has tried to put his life together again, selling his properties in Perth and Joburg and moving in with his new partner, Ingrid, at her home on Thesen Island in Knysna.

“I met Ingrid when she worked as a golf event manager at Fancourt a few years ago and my return to South Africa just evolved gradually after that.”

Richards is more distanced from cricket these days – he no longer commentates or writes for the media on the game – and he sadly acknowledges that he receives no invitations from Cricket South Africa to local functions. “It’s disappointing that because of the (political) fracture in our society, the older cricketers are not really embraced by the current structures at all.”

He is in regular contact, however, with an elite group of his cricketing peers including Mike Procter, Graeme Pollock, Clive Rice, Lee Irvine and Ken McEwan.

His firmest link to the current cricketing world is as a member of the MCC World Cricket Committee which meets twice a year, including once at Lord’s at the height of the English summer, an occasion he particularly cherishes.

Cricketing issues

“Our next meeting will be in Cape Town in January,” he said.

Formed in 2006, the committee, which includes former Proteas Shaun Pollock and Dave Richardson, is an independent body of current and former international cricketers under the chairmanship of former England captain Tony Lewis. Serving as a complementary body to the ICC, it discusses all cricketing issues of international importance, and in particular conducts research into the game’s technical and bio-mechanical elements.

Richards mentioned three of the issues that the committee had been “banging on about” recently, namely the governance of the game, the umpire review system and the development of the “pink ball” for night Test cricket.

He described T20 cricket as a “runaway train” that was being used as a cash cow by administrators throughout the world. This was all well and good, he added, but he was always mindful of the need to promote Test cricket as a viable form of the game as well.

“The World Test championship is a good concept, but it’s a complicated issue around programming and we still have to tackle the many nuances that remain.”

Richards said he used to be concerned about the future of the 50-over game as well, but the huge success of the format at the World Cup on the Indian subcontinent earlier this year had helped to allay his fears.

Looking ahead to the visit of Australia next month, Richards said the Proteas had a “great opportunity” to defeat Australia in a home Test series for the first time since 1970.

“I think they’re favourites. Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel are a formidable pairing up front and I like the introduction of Imran Tahir as an aggressive leg-spinner.

“By contrast, I don’t think the Aussie batting is all that flash. They’ve got a couple of experienced players (Ponting and Hussey), but they haven’t got the quality of youngsters coming through that they would have hoped for. The key for them, I think, is how well Shane Watson does up front.”

He approved of new coach Gary Kirsten, adding: “I just hope he will be given a free rein to do what he thinks is right.”

The interview is being conducted at the Durban Country Club’s Beachwood course where Richards is chatting to some old friends of the Scramblers social club who are about to tee off.

“The Scramblers started 25 years ago, just after I retired,” said Richards, who has been a low handicap golfer for many years.

“One of the members here today is Ian Baxter who used to be with Clover Dairies who provided me with the first professional sponsorship for a cricketer in South Africa.”

Richards hasn’t forgotten about the Kingsmead Mynahs, the organisation that was formed to keep him in Natal in the early 1970s after South Africa had been isolated from world cricket.

He will be helping them with a golf day in Durban in May next year to help boost their funds.

“The Mynahs need to expand and embrace a wider cricket community and I’m very happy to help them out,” he said.


The great depression



The great depression

The illness is one of the major health issues globally and a leading cause of suicide. It should be carefully managed and monitored1 Io?al experts told Lindsay Ord
THE TRAGIC suicide in Perth of Mark Richards, the son of cricketing legend Barry Richards, has highlighted a possible devastating consequence of depression, a condition that is often maligned, misunderstood and trivialised.
Mark, 27, had suffered from chronic depression for years, according to his parents, and, sadly, he was not alone.
An estimated one in five South Africans suffers from a mental disorder the most common of which is depression, according to the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag).
It?s also a worrying global health issue, affecting about 121 mfflion people worldwide, with the World Health Organisation predicting it wifi be t1~e second-largest contributor to the global burden of disease by 2020.
But depression is not just a chronic illness. It is also a leading cause of suicide, which has some staggering statistics in South Africa? there are 22 suicides and a further 220 attempted suicides in this country every day For many people who suffer from depression, described by former British prime minister Winston Churchifi as a ?Black Dog?, suicide appears to be the only optiOn~?s they struggle year in and year out with a disease that has the capacity to destroy family life, friendships and careers.
Suicide, howevei does not ?just happen?, according to Professor Lourens Scblebusch, the author of Suicidal Behaviour in South Africa (TJKZN Press) and widely regarded as the country?s top authority on suicide. He is also the principal researcher on the Africa site of the WHO?s project on suicide prevention.
?People don?t just get up one day and decide to commit suicide,? he says.
?It is a process, and very often it takes just one small thing to trigger it off ?In 90 percent of cases there is a psychological problem like depression or substance abuse and these are problems that need to be treated. Unfortunately, people tend not to seek help until they are in a crisis, or they go for treatment and discontinue it when they start to feel better. Then they become high risk for suicide,? he says.
Anyone can get depression and it affects people from all ages, races and walks of life ? and an increasing number of young people are becoming at risk ? about one in 10 people between the ages of 13 and 19 wifi experience some form of depression and, alarmingly, this is also a high-risk group for suicides. -?Threats of suicide should always be taken serious1~? says Schlebusch. ?Non-fatal suicides are a problem in this country. Some young people attempt suicide but don?t really want to succeed ? it is a cry for help. Unfortunately, they have no guarantee of the outcome of their actions.? Depression is a complex phenomenon, which may be caused by an imbalance in the chemicals in the brain.
Genetic, cultural and biological factors also play a role and it is best treated by medicationand behavioural therapy, advises Scblebusch.
Anti-depressant medications and brief structured forms of psychotherapy are effective for 60 to 80 percent of those affected, according to the WHO, but fewer than 25 percent of those affected (in some countries fewer than 10 percent) receive such treatments. Barriers to effective care include lack of resources, lack Of trained providers and the social stigma of mental disorders.
According to Cassey Amoore of Sadag, depression isa ?whole-body? illness, involving thebody, mood and thoughts.
?It affects the way you eat and sleep, the way you feel about yourself and the way you think about things,? she says. ?Depression is not the same as a temporary blue mood. It is not a sign of pe:rsonal weakness or a condition that can be willed or wished away. People with depression cannot merely ?pull themselves together? and get better. Without treatment, symptoms can last for weeks, months or years. Appropriate treatment, however, can help most people who suffer from depression.?
Where to get help
? Sadag ( 0800 567 567 or 011 262 6396 or SMS 31393 ? Durban and Coast Mental Health Society: 031 207 2717 ? Lifeline ( 0861 322 322 ? Childllne ( 0800 055 555
ALTHOUGH therapy and anti-depressant medication are the most effective treatments for depression, home treatment is also important. Here are some tips for sufferers: ? Make sure to get up out of bed and get dressed ? even if you are not doing anything.
Staying in bed wifi make you feel worse.
? Get adequate sleep. If you have problems sleeping: ? Go to bed at the same time every night and, more importantly, get up at the same time every morning.
? Keep your bedroom dark and free of noise.
? Don?t exercise after 5pm.
– Avoid caffeinated beverages (coffee, cola, stimulant drinks) after 5pm.
? Avoid non-prescription sleeping pifis or alcohol ? they can make your sleep restless and may interact with your depression medications.
? Try to establish a routine that is easy to follow and not stressful. This wifi keep you engaged with reality and help you get through the day.
? Make sure you eat a balanced diet. If you lack an appetite, eat small snacks rather than large meals.
? Avoid drinking alcohol or using illegal drugs or medications that have not been prescribed. They may interfere with your medications or make your depression worse.
? Try to do the things you remember enjoying before the onset of your depression for example, reading, listening to music, sewing and watching TV ? Even if you don?t feel motivated, try to participate in social activities.
? Get regular exercise, even walking around the block.
? Keep a journal and write down your feelings to put things into perspective.
? Surround yourself with positive influences.
? Try to share your feelings with someone. It is better than being secretive.
? Do tasks like cooking, shopping or ironing.
? Postpone major life decisions such as changing jobs, moving or getting married or divorced when you are depressed.
? Read as much as you can about your illness, so you are fully aware of it, which can help you to not let it take control of your life.
? Be patient and kind to yourself Remember that depression is not your fault and is not something you~ can overcome with willpower alone. Treatment is necessary like any illness.
? Try to maintain a positive attitude ? remember that feeling better takes time, and your mood will improve little by little.
? Surround yourself with positive people and don?t necessarily live for the moment, think of the future and of things you would like to accomplish. Remember that tomorrow ?today? ~wffl be gone forevet ? Keep yourself occupied so you don?t dwell on negative and upsetting things.
Remove yourself from places and people who don?t bring out the best in you or make you feel good.
? Start or join a support group and talk to people who have overcome depression to find out what they did to beat it. If there is no group in your area, speak to your doctor, or friends about the two of you starting a group in your area, with help from Sadag (see ?Where to get help?).
? Do volunteer work, Help others, go to an old age home, a hospital, a church or school and see what help they need even if it is just once or twice a week.
? Source: Sadag and Suicidal Behaviour in South Africa
What to say to sOmeone ?v~vho is depressed.
? ?I?m all alone.? Don?t say: ?No you?re not! I?m with you right now.
Doesn?t my caring about you mean anything?? Do say: ?I know that you?re feeling alone right now Is there anything I can do to help? I?m just glad to be with you ? together we?ll get through this lonely feeling.? ? ?Why bother? Life isn?t worth living. There?s no point in going on.? I)on?t say: ?How can you think that? You have everything to live for Do say: ?I know it feels that way to you right now, but I want you to know that you matter to me and. yiu matter to others who love you. We?ll get thiough this hopeless feeling together.? ? ?I?m dragging everybody else down.? Don?t say: ?No you?re not! You see, I?m fine! Ihad a good day today. And besides I?m doing everything in the world to help you.? Do say: ?I know it feels that way to you right now, and yes, at times it is difficult for both of us ? but remember we?ll get through this hopeless feeling together.? ? ?What would it be like if I wasn?t here anymore?? Don?t say: ?Don?t be sffly ? what?s wrong with you?? D say: ?I would miss you terribly because you?re very important to me. I want to grow old knowing you?re around. We?ll get through this together.? ? ?I?m expendable.? Don?t say: ?If you felt better about yourself~ you wouldn?t say stupid things like that.? Do say: ?I know you?re feeling worthless right now, but we?ll get through this.? ? ?Nothing I do is any good. I?ll never amount to anything.? Don?t say: ?You?re highly respected. You?re blowing everything out of proportion.? Do say: ?I know it?s upsetting when things don?t work out the way you want them to ? it?s upsetting for me too! Feelings of failure are really painful, but we?ll get through this together? ? ?How long am I going to feel this way? It?s as if I?ll never get better.? Don?t say: ?Come on. Nothing lasts forever ? you know better than that.? Do say: ?I know it?s scary to be in so much pain.
We?ll get through this together? ? Source: Sadag and Suicidal Behaviour in South Africa Symptoms: Not everyone who is depressed experiences every symptom listed. Some people experience a few symptoms, some people experience many. Also, the severity of symptoms varies between individuals.
Symptoms include: ? Persistent sad or ?empty? mood.
? Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyed, including sex.
? Feelings of hopelessness and pessimism.
? Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness and sell-reproach.
? Insomnia or hypersonmia, early morning awakening or oversleeping.
? Appetite and/or weight loss or overeating and weight gain.
? Decreased energy, fatigue and feeling run down.
? Increased use of alcohol and drugs may be associated, but is not a criteria for diagnosis.
? Thoughts of death or suicide; suicide attempts.
? Restlessness, irritability a~nd hostility.
? Difficulty concentrating, remembering and making decisions.
? Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as -headaches, digestive disorders andchronic pain.
? Deterioration of social relationships.

? Source: Sadag and Suicidal Behaviour in South Africa



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One Response to “Batting legend opens a new innings”

  1. craiglock Says:

    Reblogged this on Craig's Books.


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