Glenn Maxwell on indefinite break from cricket: Why are so many cricketers struggling with mental health issues?
Australian all-rounder Glenn Maxwell will be taking an indefinite break from cricket due to mental health issues. Maxwell is hardly the first top-level cricketer to have battled mental illness. We take a deeper look into such instances and try to find out why.
On Thursday, Cricket Australia made an announcement which caused a stir in the cricketing world. They stated that superstar all-rounder Glenn Maxwell is taking a break from cricket due to struggles with mental health, and will be pulling out from the series with Sri Lanka with immediate effect. This announcement came just ahead of the final T20I, with Australia announcing D’Arcy Short as replacement for Maxwell. The Australia team psychologist said Maxwell will “spend a short time away from the game” and pointed out that the 31-year-old was “proactive in identifying these issues and engaging with the support staff.” The Australian coach Justin Langer also said that Maxi showed "great courage" to admit that "he wasn't OK".
Here's the latest on Glenn Maxwell, his withdrawal and replacement in the Australian T20I side - featuring some fitting words from Justin Langer on Maxwell's courage to admit he was struggling. pic.twitter.com/VSPmpy1njc— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) October 31, 2019
"In one way, it's really good for him to do that. Behind the mask of the great entertainer and the great talent and the great team man and everything we see publicly, a lot of these guys are human and they’re hurting a bit. Hopefully, he's going to be fine", Langer added.
This is not the first time a cricketer has pulled out of a series or retired due to mental health issues. Earlier this year one the greatest in women's cricket, Sarah Taylor drew curtains on her illustrious career due to anxiety issues at just 30 years of age.
(Sarah Taylor | Source: Getty Images)
“…I’ve had the pleasure of playing alongside the best players and people throughout my career, but it is the right time for me and my health to retire and move on to my next chapter…” wrote the magician behind the stumps in a social media post in September.
Former England opener Marcus Trescothick withdrew from England’s tour of India in February 2006 claiming he was suffering from a virus. Later that year, he travelled to Australia, but after playing in the first two warm-up matches he flew home with a ‘stress-related illness’.
(Marcus Trescothick: Source: Facebook)
In 2008, he announced an early retirement from international cricket because of mental health issues. Sir Geoffrey Boycott had then called Trescothick the first victim of the 'greedy game'.
Another English batsman Jonathan Trott also suffered from depression and had to return home from Engalad's tour of Australia. The ICC Cricketer of the year 2011 wrote in his book, “I considered driving my car into the Thames or into a tree. That way I could get out of the ordeal.”
In February this year, Will Pucovski, who was touted as the next big thing in Australian cricket, was released from Australia’s test squad against Sri Lanka, just ahead of his 21st birthday, due to mental health concerns.
(Will Pucovski | Source: Cricket Australia)
Steve Harmison was another England cricketer to admit to the possibility that he suffered from clinical depression during his international career. In an interview, Harmison said he only realized how bad things had got during England’s tour of South Africa in 2004-05.
Harmison, who went from being the No.1 ranked bowler in the world to the depths of being labeled a failure, once said, “Today is the day I wish I worked in an office in a nine-to-five job. This is the worst day I’ve known as a cricketer… How do you tell your kids you won’t be home for 10 weeks? It’s just being away that kills me.”
Even Indian cricket is no stranger to mental health issues curtailing careers. Former Indian spinner and commentator Maninder Singh is among the few Indian cricketers who has spoken about his battles with mental health issues. Singh went from being India’s youngest-ever Test player at 17 years in 1982 to becoming a recluse and an alcoholic. Singh later spoke how the celebrity culture in India stopped him from getting professional help when he needed it.
(Maninder SIngh | Source: PTI)
There are many more cricketers who have openly spoken about battling anxiety, depression, stress etc. The long list includes the likes of Andrew Flintoff, Matthew Hoggard and Shaun Tait. Living months away from family and friends in distant countries, with the pressure of world on the shoulders can often lead to burnout and stress-related issues. On top of that, the jam-packed ICC schedule doesn't even allow cricketers to recover from months of intense mental and physical pressure.
While Maxwell's decision might have been unexpected, but it reveals a larger issue in the highest level of the game. The ICC and the respective cricket boards must come together and address the issues of scheduling and handling of the players' health because in any game, it's the players who matter the most.