The cricket world was hit with an inevitable truth when Glen Maxwell took a break from the game citing mental health issues. That cricketers are human beings and can be subjected to mental issues were always known but never addressed.
The rigorous criticism that a player is hit with when he/she doesn’t perform up to the mark was bound to take a toll on the player’s psychology. But since no one talked about not much attention was paid either.
However, the tide seems to be turning after Maxwell came up and talked about it in the open. The swashbuckling all-rounder was in a great touch and a day before his announcement scored a fiery 62 off 28 balls.
After Maxwell’s announcement, Indian captain Virat Kohli hailed the Australian all-rounder and spoke about the phase when he too battled issues mentally but could not ask for anyone’s help out in the open.
“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,” Kohli said referring to the 2014 tour of England when he endured a poor form.
Two other Australian cricketers, Nic Maddinson and Will Pucovski, have followed their senior pro’s path and withdrew themselves from the Australia A side during a three-day game against Pakistan.
The decision might have cost them potential spots in national team since the selectors were looking to take at least two new faces into the squad for Test series against Pakistan.
That one player stopped playing cricket despite being in a great touch and that two others were ready to sacrifice their spot in the side for which they had dedicated their entire life should sound an alarm to everyone’s mind.
It reflects that the players reached a boiling point where their love for cricket wasn’t helping but disturbing them.
Though the specific reasons behind the three cases are not known, Ben Oliver, Cricket Australia’s (CA) head of national teams, said that there were number of things he had been noting since the beginning of 2019.
Speaking to the Melbourne-based SEN Sports radio channel, the first things Oliver believed could have affected these players were “intense scrutiny and the relentless schedule” of cricket.
“From that perspective, there is an absolute need for us to invest time, energy, resources into understanding the challenges that exist for players and staff around mental health in that context, and making sure we do everything we can,” Oliver said.
Australia speedster Mitchell Star echoed the same and attributed the blame on the gruelling schedule that forces players to be away from home for months.
Starc believed so much time away from home affected not only the players but their families and friends as well.
“You have your pressures around cricket, the schedules are pretty ridiculous these days,” AFP quoted Starc,
Cricket Australia’s sports science and sports medicine manager, Alex Kountouris said that his organization was working hard to understand the causes better in a move that has seen CA putting players’ mental health in the top-priority list.
“There is much society still needs to learn in relation to mental health, but we know enough to say with great certainty that silence is not the answer,” Kountouris was quoted as saying by AFP.
“Cricket Australia has committed to being open about the challenges faced in managing mental health. We are putting player well being first and supporting them unconditionally,” he added.