Mental health issues in the field of sports is a real thing that several sportsperson often go through at some point in their lives. But, they seldom manage to speak up on the issues troubling them. Depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, self-harm, among others, are some of the issues faced by them.
Cricketers, too, feel the burden of depression on their shoulders owing to hectic schedules, public backlash and the ever-present fear of failure. There have been several instances when a cricketer has suffered from mental health issues and wasn’t supported enough to get over it.
This issue was thurst into the spotlight when Australia's Glenn Maxwell, Nic Pucovski and Nic Maddinson took a break from cricket owing to mental health issues, last year.
Here are five players that have opened up about their mental health issues;
1. Virat Kohli: Talking on Glenn Maxwell’s break from cricket due to mental health issues, the Indian skipper said that it was remarkable of Maxwell to admit the issues faced by him. Recalling an earlier phase in his career, Virat said that he too battled "end of the world" thoughts but didn't know how to even communicate to someone.
Speaking at a press conference, he said, “You know when you get to the international stage, every player that's in the squad needs that communication - that ability to speak out. I think what Glenn has done is remarkable. I have gone through a phase in my career where I had felt that it was the end of the world. I just didn't know what do and what to say to anyone, How to speak, how to communicate," he recalled, referring to the 2014 tour of England when he endured a slump in his form.
2. Marcus Trescothick: The England cricketer was at the peak of his career in 2006 when he announced his retirement due to his mental health. He was in the squad when England was on tour in India but he had to return home citing mental health issues.
In an interview with Men’s Health, he had talked about his depression openly. He said, “I’d always suffered with being away from home. I remember sitting with the team psychologist before the tour, telling him I didn’t want to go away. Things escalated really quickly when we got out there. I was cooped up in bed for the best part of a week and it got progressively worse to the point where I thought “I’ve got to get out of here and sort out what’s happening to me.”
3. Glenn Maxwell: Australian all-rounder Glenn Maxwell had taken a break from cricket in October 2019 for a similar reason. Upon his return in December, he said that being constantly on the road for the past "four to five years" had mentally and physically ruined him, forcing him to take a mental health break in October.
In an interview to ESPNcricinfo, he said, “I was pretty cooked when I decided to take the time off. Big reason why I did take that time away is I was pretty mentally and physically ruined. I think it was eight months on the road, living out of a suitcase and that probably had been going on for four or five years, just constantly on the road and it all just caught up with me at that time.”
4. Sarah Taylor: England wicketkeeper Sarah Taylor took early retirement in July 2019, citing her problems with anxiety. In recent years, though, Taylor has missed several series at home and abroad as she manages her mental health, with the issue leading to her withdrawal from England’s squad midway through this summer’s Ashes.
Speaking on her mental health, she said, “I first took a break from the game in 2016 but I don't want people to feel this is exactly the same. I've made progress in that time and there are plenty of challenges I've met on the way and hurdles I've overcome."
She added, “That said, mental health is not something you 'beat'. It’s a continual management process and at the moment I don't feel in a good enough place to compete in international sport.”
5. Praveen Kumar: Former Indian fast bowler, in a recent interview, admitted that he also suffered from depression and revealed that he even tried to committ suicide at one point. He also said that no one in India understands the concept of depression.
In an interview with The Indian Express, he said, “I told myself, ‘What’s all this? Let me just end it.’ I realised I can’t do this to my innocent children, put them through this hell. I turned back. Who understands depression in India? Nobody knows about it and in Meerut, certainly not. I had no one to talk to, felt almost constant irritation. As a fast bowler, I had to do a lot of thinking. I told the counsellor I was unable to switch off thoughts.”