Australian superstar Steve Smith is glad that mental health of cricketers is in focus after some of his compatriots took breaks to deal with their issues, which he feels, are compounded by ‘hectic’ playing schedules.
Star all-rounder Glenn Maxwell, and batsmen Nic Maddinson, Will Pucovski announced breaks from international cricket to deal with their mental issues and got support from Cricket Australia.
“It is a pretty hectic schedule nowadays,” Smith was quoted as saying by ESPNCricinfo. “It’s bloody tough to sustain it for long periods of time, particularly I think for the fast bowlers. It’s extremely difficult what they put themselves through.”
“It’s great that those conversations are happening and we’re trying to keep guys as mentally and physically fresh as they can be,” Smith added.
India captain Virat Kohli had also touched on the subject, lauding Maxwell for his admission and recalling the time he struggled with “end of the world” thoughts.
“You know when you get to the international stage, every player that’s in the squad needs that communication – that ability to speak out. I think what Glenn has done is remarkable,” Kohli had said on the eve of the first Test against Bangladesh in Indore.
“I have gone through a phase in my career where it was the end of the world,” said Kohli. “In England 2014, I just didn’t know what to do, what say to anyone, how to speak, how to communicate. I could have said that I am not feeling great mentally and need to get away from the game. But you never know how that’s taken.”
Smith said in the Australian dressing room players are now notifying details of their sleeping patterns and stress levels to the team management, helping in better understanding of their well being.
“We fill out daily how we’re feeling, how we slept... the sleep gets a big red every now and again. We fill out a wellness thing every day. The coach and psych (psychologist) and head of team performance look at our markers daily and it’s upon us to be honest in the way we go about that as well,” he said.
“...if there’s a change in behaviour, if you’re feeling ill or not sleeping well or feeling a bit off, they’re aware of it. That can sort of start a conversation. Why is your sleep bad? What’s going on? Why are you feeling a bit off today? It’s good that they do that. It’s good for guys’ mental health and well being as well,” he added.
The former captain was also asked about the suspension of his former Caribbean Premier League teammate Nicholas Pooran for ball-tampering. Having endured a one year ban himself, Smith hoped that the West Indies player would learn from the four-match suspension.
“Everyone is different, every board is different, and the way they deal with certain issues. For me, I copped it on the chin... it is what it is. I know Nicholas, I’ve played a bit of cricket with him and he’s a talented player and someone with a bright future,” Smith said.
“I think he’ll learn from his mistake and move past it,” he added.
(With PTI inputs)