|Jesse Ryder - give him a break|
The incident in a pub at Napier, where Ryder and team mate Doug Bracewell had broken team protocol and gone out for drink and ended with push and shove involving a patron with opinions contrary to Ryder's, was the final straw for team management. It followed a string of incidents in the previous years where Ryder's apparent misuse of alcohol and risky attitudes even on the field had the coach, John Wright, asking whether the big fellow was worth the trouble.
It's now that his behaviour has come to a head that New Zealand cricket needs to set an example that much of the rest of the cricket world could follow and support Jesse Ryder in dealing with his mental health issues. Traditionally, cricket has dealt with them so very badly. Even in recent years, Shaun Tait and Andrew Symonds come quickly to mind but Australia is not alone in identifying mental health problems as personality issues rather than the illnesses they are. The nature of bipolar, for instance, means that the illness is more prevalent in high achievers as its super heated states of mania can create individuals who can do things those without such self belief and drive can. The flip side is when the state changes to depression.
In either state, the individual can be a handful and not just to team mates. No one gets more damaged by a bipolar than himself.
Ryder is immensely talented and immensely troubled but as is often the case with people with such obvious public gifts, he sails on dark currents underneath. Its very hard for most to understand but much of his conflicted dark behaviour is almost impossible to control without medication and psychological support. Set aside his potential contribution to NZ cricket for a minute and lets concern ourselves with the man. This is not a fault with his personality, its an illness. If he was a diabetic or had a broken arm or a heart condition, the public would rush to be sympathetic. Why the hell should a mental illness be any different? Its an illness which manifests in displays by the individual which make us squirm but in the main, sufferers can't resist its urges. Ryder should have to take responsibility for his actions but he is still a victim.
Forget the accusation of it being the celebrity disease and find out how much sufferers from bipolar go through which is unreasonable and ultimate untenable. Check out the mortality rates for instance from suicide, where the person with bipolar I (one) is 17 times more likely to kill themselves; the increased risk of heart disease, lung cancer, drug dependence and death from risk taking, non intentional death. Open your eyes before you open your mouth and give Ryder some space to get well.
If Jesse Ryder has bipolar disorder, he didn't choose it. Nothing he has done has caused it. What's worse, he can't get rid of it. It is an illness and it can only be managed. How would that news make you feel?
Instead of being so quick to condemn actions which he has never ducked responsibility for, perhaps some tea and sympathy and applause for his willingness to try again, with the right support structures in place, might be the more appropriate response.
After all, there's nothing wrong with you.