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April 11, 2012
Andy Flower, England's coach, was aware of Michael Yardy's battle with depression almost six months before the allrounder withdrew from the latter stages of last year's World Cup and to all intents and purposes ended his international career.
Yardy has revealed in the 2012 edition of Wisden Cricketers' Almanack, which is published on Thursday, when he told Flower about his problems. "He was unbelievably supportive," Yardy said. "It was a huge relief just to tell him."
Flower respected Yardy's confidentiality and put him in touch with Brett Morrissey, a behavioural therapist and sports psychologist based at Warwickshire Hospital, who has also advised the IPL franchise Delhi Daredevils.
Yardy's depression first had a direct impact upon his career when he pulled out of England's last one-day international against Pakistan at the Rose Bowl in September 2010. At the end of a fractious series, with revelations about Pakistani spot-fixing in full swing, and PCB chairman Ijaz Butt claiming it was all "a conspiracy" against Pakistan, nobody outside the England set-up bothered to consider why Yardy's Sussex team-mate Luke Wright had been preferred.
"Deep down I knew I was in a bad place," Yardy said. "I was very tense and living on a very short fuse - both with myself and others … I always had high expectations but things were getting out of hand. I could never please myself, was constantly striving for more and setting unrealistic goals, which just increased the pressure I was putting on myself because of the self-doubt.
"I have always liked my own space, but now the very act of being around other people became an effort. My mind was saying: 'They don't like you anyway. Why would they? You're a loser.' Everyone has negative thoughts but I was letting mine rule my life."
Yardy went to the World Cup looking forward to his second experience of cricket in India, after the 2006 Champions Trophy *. But his erratic bowling form was apparent in what was to prove his last ODI. In the group stage against South Africa, he was England's most expensive bowler - a ploy to give him the new ball almost backfiring - in a tie they sneaked on their way to reaching the quarter-finals.
"At night I would lie for hours battling with my mind," he revealed. "It became a vicious circle: I was missing my family, I was performing badly and my self-belief was low. The harder I tried, the more I kept hitting a brick wall.
"When we arrived in Sri Lanka for our quarter-final, I was struggling. I was out of the team and remember operating at a training session in a daze. Our spin-bowling coach Mushtaq Ahmed, a great friend and former Sussex team-mate, insisted I needed to think about my health. At this stage I knew I needed to go home."
Edited by Alan Gardner
10.30 GMT, April 11: It was earlier mentioned that Yardy was making his first trip to India in 2011. It has been corrected
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