Mental health in cricket has come sharply into focus recently, with Ben Stokes opting out of playing the game for an indefinite period of time.
Mental health in most professional sport has been brought into the public eye with USA gymnastics great Simone Biles pulling out of her scheduled events at the Tokyo Olympic Games. Japanese superstar tennis player and four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka withdrew from the French Open to focus on her mental health.
Mental health in cricket brought into focus
Ben Stokes takes an indefinite break from cricket
The most recent and high-profile example of mental being health in cricket being brought to the fore is Ben Stokes. He has put his hand up and said he needs time off to take care of himself. Like any top-level sports professional, he has experienced a roller-coaster of emotional highs and lows. From the highs of winning the 2019 Cricket World Cup and his heroic 135 not out in the third Ashes Test, to the lows of the death of his father and his alleged involvement in a nightclub incident for which he was charged with affray. He was found to be not guilty, but had already been fined by the ECB and served an 8 match suspension.
Stokes stepping back does mean that he misses the upcoming Test series against India. The free cricket prediction services will need to reconsider how this affects their analysis of the game.
Under normal circumstances, many people would be strong enough to deal with negative circumstances in their life. Unfortunately though, the global pandemic means that circumstances are not normal. Professional sportspeople are subjected to living extended periods within a bio-bubble. These bio-bubbles by their very nature mean that players are moving between competitions and series without families and therefore support structures, amplifying any mental health concerns.
Mental health in cricket is not a new concern
A few earlier examples show that this issue has been around for a long time, albeit not as well recognized or understood.
Trott left the 2013 Ashes tour to Australia after the first Test to deal with “a stress-related illness”. At the time Shane Warne mocked Trott for leaving the tour, citing his difficulties in dealing with Mitchell Johnson as the real reason.
Trescothick is a pioneer in highlighting mental health in cricket as a concern. He also left an Ashes series to take of himself. The 2006/7 series in Australia. He has been very open about his struggle with depression to make people aware of the realities of living with an invisible medical health issue.
Considering players’ mental health in cricket will continue to be important. The demands of international players will continue to grow, with a fan base hungry for success demanding that excellence is delivered every time. This is further amplified with the creation of new limited overs competitions to add to the Test program.
Taking a break from the continuous pressure will become vital for players.
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