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Cricket and the rise of the 'D' word!

On » Sunday, March 27, 2011 //
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'Depression doesn't care who it attacks: if it wants you, you cannot beat it off with a CV or a bank balance' - Marcus Trescothick
 I am writing this post in the wake of the recent events in the ongoing Cricket World Cup 2011, where an English Cricketer withdrew from the team because of depression. Michael Yardy, the left arm spinner from the England squad left the camp last week citing depression. It was so brave and honest of him to have come forward and accept the situation and letting it know to the authorities. But this is not the only event in which sports with the cruel and demanding image it has today, has taken its toll on the mental health of the athletes.

(Courtesy: Internet)
The 30-year-old Sussex man, who has played a bit-part role during the tournament but has been a regular on the one-day scene over the last two years, is flying back to England immediately after discussions with the squad's medical team. But Yardy was not the only English cricketer to feel the blues. Marcus Trescothick, the Ex-English opener too failed to beat depression  during his 2006 tour of India, which lead him to take a decision to quit his international career in 2008, cowed into submission by what he called the “black wings” of stress, sleeplessness and psychological torture.

The erratic schedule and the huge burden of expectations with lack of quality time with the loved ones have all contributed in players confronting their demons every now and then. The simple fact that Yardy spent only 4 days at home with his wife and the two kids in a span of 5 months explains the apathy of these brave sportsmen. I call him brave because Yardy did not try to beat around the bush by faking injuries or feigning illness. Instead he uttered the 'D' word with courage and honesty.

Graham Thorpe and Phil Tufnell were also the victims of the curse of Cricket. It is said that Tufnell had even spent a night in the psychiatry ward during the Ashes tour of 1994-95. Lou Vincent, who made a century on debut for New Zealand against an Australian attack containing Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne, also dropped out of top-class cricket because of depression.

Cricket today is such a game where the players spend more time with their team mates than their own families. Moreover, the uncertainty and the huge pressure to fight for your place in the playing eleven, especially in teams like India, South Africa, Australia who boast a terrific bench-strength, sometimes tears at the nerves. It has become a one-cap wonder game. One match you play good, you are the apple of so many eyes. The very next match you under perform, and you are on the hit-list of many. Though sport is all about showing your strengths and not your weakness, burning out of the cricketers due to a crazy schedule is becoming a serious issue today. Self-doubt, loneliness and home-sickness are the demons that these cricketers are confronting in this mad world of cut-throat competition.

But I believe there are more Yardys and Trescothicks in other teams too. And they are certainly not going to be the last ones. It is high time that constructive steps are taken into considerations, so as to avoid such circumstances. People like Geoffrey Boycott, should not criticize and overlook such new problems the current generation of cricketers are going through. These oldies need to realise one thing, that cricket has changed drastically today. It was very insensitive on Boycott's part to have correlated Yardy's confession of being depressed with his cricketing abilities. 

Depression is just like any other illness. It has nothing to do with the 'strength' or 'weakness' of one's mind. It is due to an imbalance of neurotransmitters in your brain that are responsible for your mood in your day to day activities. Comments like 'Pull yourself together mate' or 'Cheer up boy' will not serve any purpose. Once depression attacks someone the only way out is to seek professional help and even more importantly accept it honestly. Yardy did it with courage. Hats off to him. Wishing the man a speedy recovery...

Do not forget... 'Everyone is vulnerable!'


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