The mental health of sportspersons didn’t receive the necessary importance in the past but in recent times a lot of emphasis has been placed on helping players overcome the issue. Australia coach Justin Langer advocated the need to keep a tab on the younger players and their ability to cope with testing times in life.

With most of India under lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak, the topic of mental health has been widely discussed.

PTI spoke to a few current and former cricketers to understand how they’re coping with the lockdown.

Maninder Singh, Manoj Tiwary and Irfan Pathan pointed at India’s family structure as being a huge bonus in the bid to avoid mental health issues while Deep Dasgupta had a slightly contrarian view as he felt that it would be interesting test of familiar relationships.

“I believe that India’s close-knit family culture is something that will help us cope with mental pressure during these uncertain times,” Tiwary said.

“I am constantly travelling and now I get to feed my son lunch everyday. It’s a completely new experience but worth it,” he added while explaining the difference with some of the western countries.

“You probably see a 21-year-old player from some of the first world country living alone all by himself. He has IPL riches, loves to party, enjoy life. And then something like this happens. You are alone and suddenly all negative stuff keeps crossing your mind. And as they say, an idle mind is a devil’s workshop,” the 34-year-old said.

Pathan spoke about how most of our sporting community which comes up through hardships become tougher in the long run.

“If you look at England, Australia, if you don’t have jobs, the government takes care and gives you financial support until you again become self-sufficient. It’s a great thing. You have very little to worry about. In India, we have to earn it the hard way. We learn hardships from an early age,” said the former India all-rounder.

And of course family support matters, Pathan agrees with Tiwary.

“They are with you because they love you unconditionally and not when you are on top of your game. Unlike players of other countries, we have a support system to fall back on. In my home, I have my elder brother, his family, my family our parents. Once you are done with your job, you know you are coming home to a full family,” Pathan said.

Maninder, former India left-arm spinner, who has battled depressions, although for entirely different reasons, he put it aptly.

“Khali ghar mein kisse baat karogey aap? Deewaron se?(You can’t talk to walls in an empty house). Loneliness is never good. Having family and friends around helps. Be in a positive environment. We have our struggles and I don’t think our players would need mental help.”

Dasgupta, however, is not so sure but said the coming days would provide an interesting case study.

“These 21 days will be a test of relationships and how our support system works. Everyone is talking about quality time but who defines what quality? We all are busy with our lives, and in between when we get time, we have till date, called it quality.

“But now the quality is the new normal because we are doing it 24/7. How we evolve is the question as our support group (family) is also going through same experience,” Dasgupta said.