Monday, 17 September 2012


Iain O'Brien
Fantasy Bob notes the growing concern about cricketers'mental health.   There seem to be increasing numbers of players acknowledging that they have problems.  Former NZ paceman Iain O'Brien confronted the brittleness of his own psychology last year and has written openly and eloquently about it.  Last week Tim Ambrose and Darren Cousins spoke to Steve James about their own demons.  A couple of years ago Mike Yardy left an England tour with psychological problems.  Further back there are the tribulations of Marcus Trescothick, Peter Roebuckand David Bairstow.

David Frith's book Silence of the Heart: Cricket Suicides, first published in 2001, contends that cricket is the sport with the most frequent suicide rate. He suggests that the game promotes thought patterns and anxiety levels required to tumble the vulnerable into depression. There may be a correlation between the type of personality attracted by cricket and the propensity to depression, and at the top level cricket is a particularly difficult environment. The long periods away from home - Australia's cricketers will spend an average of 44 weeks in every year on the road. The stress of individual performance within a team context. It is also possible to draw an analogy with Major League Baseball players who have been shown to be two and a half times more likely to commit suicide than the rest of the American male population.

This is thought provoking and disturbing.  Supporters are used to seeing players leave the game permanently or temporarily for all manner of physical injury.  But mental injury is less well understood.  Careful player management should help and psychological support alongside all the other support structures for elite players seems likely to grow in importance.

The lower league cricketer can also be prone to depression, for one in six of the population is likely to succumb to the condition at some time in their life.  For everyone who finds cricket a release from the cares of everyday life there will be another who may find their demons follow them into the changing room and playing field.  They deserve all the support they can get.

Teams of sports psychologist may not be on hand to the lower league player.  Fantasy Bob is therefore grateful that the enlightened Scottish baker Goodfellow and Steven has developed what could be the miracle cure.

 The empire biscuit with a smiley face.  

No comments:

Post a Comment