County news February 9, 2013

Davies opens up about depression

ESPNcricinfo staff

Steven Davies, the Surrey wicketkeeper, has spoken openly for the first time about suffering from depression after a difficult 2012 season in which he experienced the loss of his friend and team-mate Tom Maynard, coupled with a dip in form that cost him his place in the England set-up and also saw him dropped by Surrey.

Davies was left out of Surrey's crucial fixture against Nottinghamshire in September, which they won to secure Division One status, although he returned for the final game of the season after his replacement, Gary Wilson, departed for the World T20 with Ireland. At the end of the season, Davies chose to take some time away from cricket and he has come back refreshed and keen to return to international contention.

"I took a bit of a break at the end of last season," Davies told Surrey TV. "I suffered with depression and took a few months off and it's done me the world of good. I spent some time with my family and now I'm fresh and ready to crack on this year."

Maynard's death in June, after an accident on the London Underground, hit Surrey's young squad hard, with Davies among those struggling to come to terms with the loss. The tragedy contributed to Rory Hamilton-Brown, Maynard's flat-mate, standing down from the Surrey captaincy after a period of compassionate leave. He eventually left the club, choosing to move back to Sussex over the close season.

"Last year was tough for everyone," Davies said. "It affects people in different ways. For me, I really struggled. I knew I just needed some family time. I had a bit of break away and now I'm ready and really looking forward to the 2013 season."

The subject of depression in cricket has become a more openly discussed, with players such as Marcus Trescothick, Matthew Hoggard and Iain O'Brien - who has recently contributed to a PCA awareness campaign - revealing their experiences of the illness. A book on dealing with depression, with a foreword by Trescothick, has been distributed to all PCA members this year.

After choosing to take a break, Davies, 26, was offered an unusual touring experience - for a cricketer - over the winter. Davies is one of the few openly gay sportsmen in the UK and he has developed a friendship with the singer Elton John, a cricket fan known for being a regular around the England dressing room during the 1980s. At John's suggestion, Davies joined him on the road for a few weeks.

"Since I came out, we've bonded," Davies said. "He's looked after me in many ways, he knew I was going through a hard time and I mentioned that I was going to take some time away from cricket. He said that winters in England can be a bit depressing and he asked me 'Why don't you come on tour with me?' ... I had a great time. It's a different world that he lives in but it was great to experience it."

Back at The Oval, where Davies has resumed his preparations for the new season, the wicketkeeper was encouraged by Surrey's prospects. With Graeme Smith signing as the club's overseas player and captain, as well as the arrivals of Vikram Solanki and Gary Keedy, Surrey have added experience to their squad as they attempt to make a more confident statement in 2013.

Davies also knows that a strong start with Surrey could aid his ambitions with England. After touring with England in the UAE last year, he was put on standby for the Edgbaston Test against West Indies in June, after Matt Prior sustained an eye infection. That was his last involvement, however, and the rise of Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler seemed to have squeezed Davies out of contention, even after Craig Kieswetter was dropped, but he has not given up on adding to his 13 caps.

"I had some time away from cricket but really kept up my strength work," Davies said. "I spent a lot of time in the gym getting my core strength up. County seasons are long - you need to be strong and fit.

"Initially it's getting back into things and doing well for Surrey. We've got a great squad this season and have recruited some experience. I feel like we're going to do great things and it's about scoring my runs and taking my catches. After that it's about getting back into the England set-up. It's where I want to be and it's why I play the game of cricket."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Harriet on February 11, 2013, 14:26 GMT

    Hopefully he'll be back with a bang this year. Personally I'd like to give Buttler/Bairstow another couple of years in the county game before chucking them into the International Melée and Davies would do well in that spot.

  • Paul on February 11, 2013, 12:35 GMT

    Good points Jackiethepen, whatever happens to Davies with regard to England, he shoudl be looking ahead to a great County career and overses in the winter too.

    Personally I would love to see him come back to Worcestershire in a few years time as Captain, a role I am sure he could fill well and inspire the other players.

  • Jackie on February 11, 2013, 9:52 GMT

    Steve Davies had a raw deal when he was turfed out of the England side to make way for Prior (Kieswetter not in the picture). Prior was picked by Flower over the heads of the selectors who had chosen Davies. All Flower had to say to Davies was "this is cut-throat competition". Absolutely disgraceful. Not the first player to be treated in that brusque harsh way by Flower. England must be littered with them. Flower got his comeuppance when he treated KP in the same way - I'm don't approve of KP's subsequent actions but you could see someone at some point would blow and it had to be a player with some other future. I felt for Davies and his subsequent depression was to be expected. But he should take a leaf out of Chris Read's book - surely an example to every player? - who had to contend with being ostracised as well as overlooked. He has been a brilliant captain for Notts and the most respected wickie in the country. He put cricket before ambition when ambition was thwarted.

  • paul on February 11, 2013, 1:11 GMT

    @OhhhhhMattyMatty That's a ridiculous thing to say to be honest mate, that basically it's no surprise that he lost form & confidence when Kieswetter got his chance for no reason what so ever. Facts are when Kieswetter was picked in 2010 they both had just had seasons of averaging 50 in list A and also for the Lions he smashed the full England side around in UAE, then scored 143 in a warm up game for us, how was that no reason. Once Kieswetter had been hit & miss in the openers spot Davies should have been given a longer run at it & he should have gone to the World Cup instead of Prior but of course that's been wise after the event. I personally believe if he'd have had a good season in 2011 they'd have gone back to him before they eventually went with KP/Bell but Davies' poor run of form started the season before Tom's tragic death in 2011 where he only averaged 29 for Surrey.

    I wish Steve the very best of luck this next season and I hope he can start churning out the numbers again.

  • Dummy4 on February 10, 2013, 23:28 GMT

    Shame he left Worcestershire. He was liked and respected here. Cricket is a game where you play an inordinate amount of time away from home. Days, weeks sometimes months at a time - year in year out. That's the game. Having his home club no where near his family home might make things worse. A great player, and in a way a tribute to his humanity that Tom's death affected him. Hope he cracks on and does a great job over the next few years. Even if he does play for the wrong side now! :)

  • Ohhhh on February 10, 2013, 13:23 GMT

    The fact that Davies is England's 3rd choice Test keeper and 4th or 5th choice limited overs keeper, shows our depth. He'd be first choice in all formats for every team except India in ODIs and T20s. He'd even allow de Villiers to play as just a batsman!

  • Dummy4 on February 9, 2013, 23:00 GMT

    Should have stayed with his friends & family at Worcester .....

  • John on February 9, 2013, 20:10 GMT

    Hope he gets through it and rediscovers his form

  • j on February 9, 2013, 18:49 GMT

    Tom Maynard was a popular player with his team mates as well as players from all over the world. Feel for Davies as he's always been a quality keeper/batsman for Surrey, just another of the many fine wicketkeepers that England produce regulary.