Cricketers' mental health thrown into the spotlight

File: Three top Australian players recently stepped aside for mental health reasons, with administrators scrambling to get on top of the problem.

File: Three top Australian players recently stepped aside for mental health reasons, with administrators scrambling to get on top of the problem.

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SYDNEY - Mental well-being as much as physical health is emerging as a key challenge for modern-day cricketers -- with relentless schedules, intense public scrutiny and the fear of failure weighing heavily.

The issue has been thrust into the spotlight in Australia, where three top players recently stepped aside for mental health reasons, with administrators scrambling to get on top of the problem.

Glenn Maxwell, one of the world's best short-format players, set the tone late last month by taking time away after "experiencing some difficulties with regards to his mental health".

Will Pucovski -- who had already taken two breaks to deal with similar issues -- and Nic Maddinson followed suit, just a week ahead of the first Test of the Australian summer against Pakistan.

The specifics of their cases are not known publicly, but Ben Oliver, Cricket Australia's head of national teams, said there were a number of factors he had noted, generally, since beginning his job this year.

"One of the early observations I've had in the role is the intense scrutiny and the relentless schedule that exists around cricket," he told SEN sports radio.

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"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."

It is not just an Australian issue. 

Ex-England captain Marcus Trescothick quit a tour of India in 2006 and England opener Jonathan Trott left the 2013 Ashes series in Australia after one Test, with both later revealing they had struggled with stress and anxiety.

Superstar India skipper Virat Kohli said this week that he too had suffered and applauded someone of Maxwell's stature going public.

"It has set the right example for cricketers around the world that if you're not in the best frame of mind you try, and try and try, but as human beings you reach a tipping point at some stage or the other," he said ahead of India's first Test against Bangladesh in Indore.

"And you need time away from the game. Not to say you give up, but just to gain more clarity."

Source
AFP