County news December 8, 2011

Sutton retires following depression

ESPNcricinfo staff

Luke Sutton, the Derbyshire captain, has retired from first-class cricket after revealing that he has been having treatment for depression and anxiety.

Sutton captained Derbyshire for three of his six years with the club and guided them from the bottom of Division Two of the County Championship in 2010 to fifth place last season.

"I have been aware for some time that I have problems with certain aspects of my mental health," said Sutton. "I have always pushed myself to the limit but I reached a point that it was having an adverse effect on my relationships with my family and colleagues, and my health in general.

"Although as a professional sportsman it is extremely embarrassing to admit to a weakness, I'm proud to have found the strength of character to seek treatment, enabling me now to feel extremely positive about my future."

Sutton, 35, also has business interests and got married in 2008. He now has a young family. "A number of other important reasons have led me to decide to retire," he said. "In addition to concerns about my own health, my two-year-old daughter has recently been diagnosed with diabetes and the growing success and, therefore, pressure of my business has forced me to take a long look at my future.

"I've recently undergone hand surgery which has also played its part in this decision. Upon reflection, and although a difficult decision, it is the right time to move on."

Having started his career at Somerset in 1997, Sutton played for Derbyshire from 1999 to 2005, unexpectedly becoming captain in 2004. He left for Lancashire in 2006 before returning to captain Derbyshire again last season.

"I've had a brilliant time over my 14 years in the game," said Sutton, who scored 7,353 first-class runs. "I have made some incredible friends. I thank each and every one of them for making it a genuinely amazing experience. In particular I'd like to thank the squad and members at Derbyshire for their great support and encouragement during my time at the club.

"I have thought long and hard about this decision, and I know it is for the best of the club. I genuinely don't feel I would be able to fulfil my position at the club to the level that I know is required. I have great affection for Derbyshire and I wish the club every success for the future."

Sutton is one a number of cricketers that have sought help for depression. Former England batsman Marcus Trescothick retired from international cricket in 2006 having experienced problems when touring abroad. Michael Yardy, the Sussex captain, took a break from cricket having flown home during the World Cup in March.

Derbyshire chairman Chris Grant thanked Sutton for his efforts with the club. "Luke's retirement was unexpected but we respect his decision. With the changes that were made at the club during the 2011 season, we appreciate it was a testing year for Luke and on a personal level I would like to thank him for his loyal support.

"I speak for everybody connected with the club in saying that I wish Luke all the very best in his continued recovery and in his future endeavours," he added. "We will be announcing Luke's successor as club captain in the next few days and preparations for the 2012 season continue as planned."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Alan on December 10, 2011, 11:17 GMT

    @JG2704: I can't say I've read very much about the Speed case at all personally: all the speculation is a bit too lurid for me. I agree depression can happen to people in any walk of life, but actually you'll see I didn't mention depression in my first message at all. All I talked about was the "pressures" of being in the media eye and dealing with the expectations from supporters and critics alike that come with trying to maintain a high-level of performance. My point is it's not as easy a life as people imagine. And there are also very sad cases of people who can't cope with not being able to maintain that level of performance and with retirement, e.g, Paul Gascoigne, Frank Bruno, Mike Tyson, and the very sad case of Jonathan Bairstow's father David.

  • John on December 9, 2011, 17:39 GMT

    @Raymond Hounslow on (December 08 2011, 11:44 AM GMT) - Depression is an illness that hits folk from all walks of life. If there were a disproportionately high amount of cases in cricket then maybe it should be looked at but I don't think there are. Chances are that Tres,Yardy,Sutton etc would suffer from it no matter what prefession they are in @AlanHarrison - re Speed , was he actually suffering from depression - I've not read that he was. I know he must have been feeling desperate but it could have been over a single incident rather than the illness. Good luck to Luke , I hope he can find fulfillment away from the game

  • James on December 8, 2011, 15:35 GMT

    A model professional and probably the fittest player on the county circuit. He was a true leader of men and very good to Derbyshire through trying times. The true test of his character is that he played for 7 seasons after losing his then-fiancee in tragic circumstances in 2004. I hope he can stay involved with the game and Derbyshire in the future. From a Derbyshire fan: Sutts you will be missed. Best of luck for the future.

  • Steve on December 8, 2011, 15:22 GMT

    AlanHarrison - well said, agree absolutely. Apart from for the elite few, professional sport isnt the gravy train many would have us believe.

  • Alan on December 8, 2011, 13:08 GMT

    In addition to Yardy and Trescothick's problems, we could also consider Shaun Tait's difficulties, as well as difficulties experienced in other sports, e.g., by Graeme Dott, and of course the recent very sad case of Gary Speed. Modern high-performance sportspeople are in a very unusual situation, and I suspect the media doesn't help. It is too easy when a bit of bad publicity comes along to depict modern sports players en masse as overpaid, socially irresponsible layabouts who have somehow "got it made". This provokes frustrations and abuse from ill-informed sports watchers, and doesn't in any way represent how tiny a proportion of budding athletes acquire fabulous riches , how many sacrifices are involved in the job, and how great are the pressures involved in staying anywhere near the top. Certainly a good country pro like Sutton, a good enough player a few years ago to be mentioned as a possible England player, hasn't easily got rich at all, and I wish him all the best.

  • Dummy4 on December 8, 2011, 12:53 GMT

    Too many games in too short a time, no time to recover mentally or physically!

  • Dummy4 on December 8, 2011, 12:49 GMT

    I think it is more of a reflection of people being willing to speak out about depression. It is a hidden illness in society in general, and I don't think cricket can be solely to blame.

  • Adam on December 8, 2011, 12:24 GMT

    Brave decision. All the best Luke.

  • Dummy4 on December 8, 2011, 11:44 GMT

    Another fine player leaving the game because of self-described depression. We need to reflect on what it is about the game and the way it is run that produces these examples.

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