For about a year now I have learnt to dislike Mervin Dillon the player and the small part of the person I think I know . Why you may ask? Well I used to be okay with Merv the player until I realised that especially with his limited skills that he had done little to improve his craft. Merv could not bowl a slower ball, or move the ball and he could barely produce a yorker. That the most experienced bowler on the team could not bowl at the death of an ODI match got my goat. Merv has no idea how much "chueeeeps" I have directed at him.
He also appeared to laugh about everything, even his long stream of crappy performances. I would think this nonchalant man child has no idea does he? Absolutely no freaking understanding of his role. He has no heart, Mervin Dillon is just going through the paces. The last straw though none of my business was the reports that he had beat up on his wife. This is something that lowers a man in my estimation, like few other transgressions.
But why given all my negative perception, would I think that Merv could be right about anything? Amazingly, tonight, right at this moment, I think that Dillon's decision not to play through injury in the recent match against South Africa in the ICC championship Trophy was really ballsy.
I must state though when it was reported that Dillon had sustained a side strain and had withdrawn last minute from the team, the red flags flew up. Here we go again I thought, that no heart business. My perception of Mervin the quitter was not helped as the Ozzie commentator laid into Dillon for his decision not to play. He explained Merv was one of the best bowlers and that he should play injured for his team, for his country.
My red flags came flying up, right at attention. Here he goes Mr. No Commitment Dillon again. The Ozzie riffled off names of stars who had played with injuries after getting injections he said. But tonight after seeing "Real Sports" the HBO sport magazine program, more specifically the segment titled "playing with pain" and I was proud of Dillon the player for the first time in more than a year. He is still not a player I would tell any young bowler to pattern himself after except in this one aspect.
What is "playing with pain" all about? It detailed the lives of two ex-athletes who had become addicted to pain killers. The players started taking pain killers in order to play with injury, taking it on the chin for the team. Is it that the relentless win at all cost culture of professional sports does not exist in West Indies cricket? If that is so, is it a bad thing, a blessing? Or is it that Dillon's lack of intensity automatically protects him from this particular problem? Maybe it is an individual thing which has nothing to do with West Indies cricket culture. We have heard tales of players like Collins hiding injury and Edwards his brother coming back too soon after injury. From what I saw tonight though, whatever the reason for Dillon's withdrawal, I am indeed happy he decided not to play injured. So for this, I think Dillon is right.
It is these wholesome attitudes towards injury management that we must endeavor to build into West Indian sports/cricket culture as we simultaneously push towards professionalism and premier international standards. This is as critical as the adoption of technology into all our processes. Let us consider ourselves as fortunate that we don't have to learn these lessons the hard way. Others have already done that for us.
[Real Sports: Playing with Pain: Chronic injuries are common in the high-speed, high-impact world of professional and collegiate sports, and the pressure to play through the pain is intense. Athletes seek pain-numbing cortisone shots to get them off the training table and rely on prescription pills to keep themselves going through long and exacting seasons. Still, the pain often continues long after the season has ended and before long, pills are no longer sufficient. That's when some athletes turn to alcohol or illegal drugs to ease the suffering. Correspondent Bernard Goldberg talks to several athletes who have found themselves on a perilous road to drug abuse that started with a routine injury. Correspondent: Bernard Goldberg.http://www.hbo.com/realsports/stories.shtml]