England news

Yardy revealed depression issues to Flower

David Hopps

April 11, 2012

Comments: 29 | Text size: A | A

Michael Yardy broke through when he trapped Junaid Siddique lbw, England v Bangldesh, 1st ODI, Trent Bridge, July 8, 2010
Michael Yardy, who played in 28 ODIs and 14 T20Is for England, described his problems with depression in Wisden Cricketers' Almanack © PA Photos
Related Links
Players/Officials: Andy Flower | Michael Yardy
Teams: England | Sussex

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

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

RSS Feeds: David Hopps

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Zahidsaltin on (April 12, 2012, 0:00 GMT)

Michael Yardy was always a fighter on cricket grounds. I am a real fan of this guy. I just wonder why human nature is like this that even if they are one of the best even then they can have a feeling of not being good enough. Why doesn't Yardy feel to be one of the best bacause otherwise he could have been among those thousands who couldn't wear national colors despite struggles of many years. I am sure Yardy will fight the depression out and come out stronger person.

Posted by   on (April 11, 2012, 22:07 GMT)

Having suffered from depression for over 20 years , the best thing that Michael Yardy has done is talk about it. This illness destroys people but by talking about it helped me, & will help him too

Posted by AdrianVanDenStael on (April 11, 2012, 19:16 GMT)

Fair enough, DH, thanks for the response.

Posted by   on (April 11, 2012, 18:46 GMT)

I wish Michael all the best with his mental health,we all get a little down and sad from time to time,but with depression, from what ive learnt about this is with you all the time all consuming and is well described by Michael, its not a disease but it might as well be.

Posted by   on (April 11, 2012, 18:20 GMT)

@Adrian- tie just means match in this instance, not a tied result

Posted by AdrianVanDenStael on (April 11, 2012, 17:40 GMT)

@David Hopps: thank you for the article and the comment. I just wanted to draw your attention to a factual anomaly in the article. There is an implication that the match between England and South Africa in the last world cup, in which Yardy opened the bowling, finished as a tie. In fact, as can be seen from following the link provided, England won that match by six runs. Possibly you may be thinking of the match at the group stage between India and England, on 27 Feb 2011, which did finish in a tie. In that game Yardy did not open the bowling, but bowled 10 overs taking 1 for 64, and made 13 off 10 balls batting at no.7. Thank you for your attention.

Posted by YorkshirePudding on (April 11, 2012, 15:36 GMT)

@Cricinfo, thankyou....In regards to the england management they learnt a lot from the Trescothic incident, as a result they are more open about the problem of depression, and have the suppott processes in place, such as recommending help. I also very much doubt if this is an end to his International career as with help he could still probably play for england in some capacity especially the shorter formats like T20 and home tours.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (April 11, 2012, 15:27 GMT)

@WPDDESILVA on (April 11 2012, 12:34 PM GMT) The brain is an organ just like any other, except more complex and mysterious. Mental illness is generally just a symptom of physical changes in the brain. Why is a hormone imbalance that causes behavioural changes any different to a hormone imbalance that causes a rash for instance? It's not like these guys are trying to get out of cleaning toilets or sweeping streets. They are international cricketers. Why would anyone feign mental illness in order to lose their spot in an international cricket team?

Posted by   on (April 11, 2012, 14:48 GMT)

All comments - whether published or not - re. this article are taken seriously. It is clear that one early comment slipped through and this has been rectified. Moderating policy is something we take very seriously. Depressive illness exists - that is not a topic worthy of discussion. Whether it is always diagnosed is another issue altogether. I would appeal to every contributor to take this debate onto a higher plane or I will personally close the comments.

The new aspect of the Yardy story, as revealed by the player himself in Wisden, is that he told Andy Flower about his depressive illness six months before the World Cup. Flower arranged the necessary support England took him to the World Cup in the belief that his problems had been conquered. In light of Marcus Trescothick's problems, it was an interesting gamble wich did not come off. that could be an interesting source of debate.

Two things that the doubters should appreciate about depressive illness. (i) If you MUST generalise, then consider that it tends to happen not to the weak, but to the good, those who have high ideals about what they wish to achieve and drive their ability levels to the limit, past the limit in fact. (ii) The touring life, with its loneliness, time away from family and suffocating routines, can bring this to a head. Mike Brearley writes excellently in Wisden on this very subject.

In the meantime some comments not driven by rampant nationalism and cheap shots on all sides would be welcome. If we can't achieve that I will request that this Comments thread is closed.

Posted by Deuce03 on (April 11, 2012, 14:09 GMT)

Marcus Trescothick was a great opening batsman, but his real legacy to England (and indeed, cricketers/sportsmen/people everywhere) was in breaking down the first barriers surrounding depression. It's still widely misunderstood, as we saw with Boycott's comments last year when Yardy returned from the WC, but at least attitudes are improving. There is a long way to go, but that England have handled Yardy's situation so well shows that Trescothick's experiences have been learned from. I hope other teams will do the same.

Posted by WPDDESILVA on (April 11, 2012, 13:34 GMT)

Niall - Depression is a mental illness not a physical as Cancer. That's why people don't call cancer patients losers !!!!

Posted by yorkshirematt on (April 11, 2012, 13:19 GMT)

@Paulpower It has nothing to do with cricket and can happen to anyone whatever their line of work

Posted by Niall on (April 11, 2012, 13:01 GMT)

Updated; I didn't know Yuvraj's condition when I wrote the earlier comment, substitute any other debilitating serious illness for Cancer.

Posted by aalkool on (April 11, 2012, 12:54 GMT)

@WPDDESILVA, despite your comments, I hope you never get depression. It is not a temporary feeling of sadness, but a constant reminder that there is no joy in your life. I suggest you read up on it.

Posted by YorkshirePudding on (April 11, 2012, 12:45 GMT)

@tearsinblue, the weather has nothing to do with depression and can affect people from any country and any walk of life....Its probably as bad in other teams, but they are more than likely to hide it, It wouldnt suprise me if it comes out that Haddin was suffering from depression and that caused his departure from the West indies.

Posted by rohanblue on (April 11, 2012, 12:43 GMT)

omg jst think what tendulkar went through with 120 crore people want him 2 score a hundred every game, and harsh media always ready to grill him fr loses, nd now dhoni facing this, god bless our cricketers nd best o luck yardy...

Posted by AnotherCricketFan on (April 11, 2012, 12:40 GMT)

Unbelievable and insensitive comments. Depression is not going to be solved by 'manning up' or 'growing b...s'. Actually it will worsen one's condition. The more they hit the wall the more withdrawn they become. It is good that Yardy to realized it and approached for help. Indians hide behind terms like - 'a rough patch'. Also Indians just need one good score/performance to be guaranteed of their spot for another 10 matches min. - look at Sehway, Rohit, Harbhajan, Ganguly, Yuvraj - even the almighty Sachin. Cricket in India is about who one knows. Not as fierce as in England and Australia. And such conditions just aggravate depression. Hats off to Flower for handling it compassionately and professionally. Most importantly recognizing it.

Posted by GTong on (April 11, 2012, 12:27 GMT)

@niall-completely agree. Yardy deserves full support for dealing with this problem and to comment on it in any other way than showing full support to him really shows complete ignorance. It would be no different than to suggest Yuvraj is weak for having to deal with his Cancer battle. Plus Yardy was no loser-T20 world cup winner I believe. econ of 6.50 in t20's is 18th best in all time list for bowlers bowling over 40 overs!

Posted by lucy82 on (April 11, 2012, 12:22 GMT)

WPDDESILVA - Depression happens to be an illness, sometimes caused by a lack of serotonin in the brain. Thankfully depression can be treated. Treatment for ignorance is a lot harder, but good luck with that.

Posted by JG2704 on (April 11, 2012, 12:16 GMT)

@WPDDESILVA on (April 11 2012, 09:48 AM GMT) - That has to be the most daft , insensitive post I've ever read on these boards - which takes some doing. As Niall puts it - depression is an illness. Kurt Cobain (Nirvana singer) killed himself after a battle with depression and his band were highly acclaimed by all. Gary Speed (Wales football manager) did likewise and Wales were going through their best form in decades. It's like saying M Ali has Parkinson's because he is unfit. @Niall - re "You'd never comment on a player with cancer calling him a loser" - To be honest mate I wouldn't put it past some although hopefully ESPN would not publish such thoughtless posts

Posted by MAK123 on (April 11, 2012, 12:06 GMT)

Depression is a killer disease and people living with it deserve sympathy rather than poking fun at. It is strange but a lot of cricketers are suffering from this disease. Not sure the sport itself has a depressing effect on people playing it or the players with depression chose cricket for sport?

Posted by readytohelp on (April 11, 2012, 12:04 GMT)

WPDDESILVA/tearsinblue you have no idea what depression means and it causes. It is not country or continent related. I have Indian background and know people with depression. Just because you are on a public forum hiding behind screen names does not mean you should insult anyone with problems, if you do not have first hand information about it. I do not blame you directly, probably you do not know anyone with depression or you are young and naive.

Posted by Niall on (April 11, 2012, 11:53 GMT)

My word the ignorance here is astonishing. Depression isn't down to too long a season, bad weather or the wrong type of spirituality. Its a (chronic) illness that can affect anyone. You'd never comment on a player with cancer calling him a loser, or suggesting that a different faith would change the situation. Don't do it for mental health issues.

Posted by Paul.Power on (April 11, 2012, 11:26 GMT)

tearsinblue: I guess England are the only country that has the peak of their cricket season from June to August- which means that they don't really get a gap in their schedule because the rest of the time they're touring somewhere else that *is* having its cricket season. That's great for the fans, but it can wear the players down over time and for some of them it just gets too much.

This winter was a bit odd in that respect because of the long gap between the end of the India series and the start of the Pakistan one, which arguably had its own issues in terms of lack of practice, form, etc.

Posted by TestDaBest on (April 11, 2012, 10:29 GMT)

This is what I love about the English mindset and culture. They treat human beings as for what and how they are. They do not ridicule anyone in trouble or force them to do things against their will. The reason why we hear more of such cases from the English team is that if a player from any other team and with all due respect especially the Asian teams would approach an official with such a problem they would be told to grow up and be a man or something of that nature and as we know it has nothing to do with someone not being man enough. If there are issues that are bothering you mentally they also affect you physically. I wish best of luck to Yardy for the future and hope to see him back in international arena soon because he is a very good one day bowler. I also give credit to Andy for how he handled this issue.

Posted by godimbored on (April 11, 2012, 10:18 GMT)

@tearsinblue. Seriously, is that a serious comment or not?

Posted by soumyas on (April 11, 2012, 10:15 GMT)

come to india, we have treatment for depression in spirituality. which will definitely help.

Posted by JasonG_123 on (April 11, 2012, 10:06 GMT)

I wonder if there are actually more English players suffering depression or if they're the only ones that are coming out and saying it. It really seems as if it's contagious over there.

Posted by tearsinblue on (April 11, 2012, 9:42 GMT)

Seriously, what is up with all these English players and depression? Weather, maybe?! Seriously though I wonder if this is as bad in other teams but they don't have a culture of players coming up and admitting the same.

Comments have now been closed for this article

Email Feedback Print
David HoppsClose
David Hopps David Hopps joined ESPNcricinfo as UK editor early in 2012. For the previous 20 years he was a senior cricket writer for the Guardian and covered England extensively during that time in all Test-playing nations. He also covered four Olympic Games and has written several cricket books, including collections of cricket quotations. He has been an avid amateur cricketer since he was 12, and so knows the pain of repeated failure only too well. The pile of untouched novels he plans to read, but rarely gets around to, is now almost touching the ceiling. He divides his time between the ESPNcricinfo office in Hammersmith and his beloved Yorkshire.
Country Fixtures Country Results
SAf Invit XI v Eng Lions at Soweto
Jan 5-7, 2015 (10:30 local | 08:30 GMT | 03:30 EST | 02:30 CST | 00:30 PST)
1st unofficial Test: Sth Africa A v Eng Lions at Paarl
Jan 11-14, 2015 (10:30 local | 08:30 GMT | 03:30 EST | 02:30 CST | 00:30 PST)
England XI v Act Inv XI at Canberra
Jan 12, 2015 (10:00 local | 23:00 GMT | 18:00 EST | 17:00 CST | 15:00 PST)
England XI v PM's XI at Canberra
Jan 14, 2015 (14:20 local | 03:20 GMT | 22:20 EST | 21:20 CST | 19:20 PST)
Australia v England at Sydney
Jan 16, 2015 (14:20 local | 03:20 GMT | 22:20 EST | 21:20 CST | 19:20 PST)
Complete fixtures » | Download Fixtures »
News | Features Last 3 days
News | Features Last 3 days