Looking after mental health can be a tough challenge for young cricketers, former India captain and current coach of the Under-19 team Rahul Dravid told ESPNcricinfo.com in an interview.
The mental health of cricketers has gained much attention ever since Australia’s Glenn Maxwell decided to take a break from the game last month. The 31-year-old’s admission of his struggles came as a shock to many and it paved the way for an important discussion.
Maxwell’s compatriot Steve Smith spoke about the mental fatigue that cricketers, especially fast bowlers, face because of their workload. His comments came after Indian captain Virat Kohli lauded Maxwell for setting the right example by stepping away from the game to recuperate.
Now, Dravid has joined this discussion as well and has said that it is important for cricketers to maintain a balance through their careers.
“It is a big challenge,” he said. “This is a tough game. There is so much competition, a lot of pressure, and kids are playing all year round now. It is a game in which you do sometimes spend a lot of time waiting around, having a lot of time to think.
“So, you really need to look after yourself on and off the field, and look after stuff like mental health. That’s again something that, as much as we talk to these boys about, it’s really important to maintain a certain level of balance in everything you do. Be able to find that balance between not getting too excited when you succeed and not getting too disappointed when you fail. I just think being able to lead a slightly balanced life potentially helps.”
Dravid, who apart from being the head coach of the India Under-19 and India A teams is also the head of cricket at the National Cricket Academy, said that there are steps being taken to make it easier for players to open up about their mental health issues.
“We are also putting a few things in place at the NCA, wherein we want to be able to give people an opportunity to talk about these things and address some of these things, and have people that they can speak to,” he said. “So, yes, there has been some work on that as well, wherein eventually we’ll get to a point where hopefully we should have professionals on board. I think sometimes some of these things need to be handled by professionals.
“I don’t think some of the coaches, or some of us, have the ability to deal with some of the issues. Some things we might be able to, but there may be some things where we might need to look at professional help. It’s one of the things we are definitely keen on doing at the NCA: giving some of these boys access to some level of professional help if they do require it.”
Read the full interview with Rahul Dravid here.