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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
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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

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Comments: 29 
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Posted by shahid on (April 11, 2012, 23:00 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 Dummy4 on (April 11, 2012, 21:07 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 Michael on (April 11, 2012, 18:16 GMT)

Fair enough, DH, thanks for the response.

Posted by Dummy4 on (April 11, 2012, 17:46 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 Dummy4 on (April 11, 2012, 17:20 GMT)

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

Posted by Michael on (April 11, 2012, 16:40 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 Jason on (April 11, 2012, 14:36 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 John on (April 11, 2012, 14:27 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 Dummy4 on (April 11, 2012, 13:48 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 Tom on (April 11, 2012, 13:09 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.

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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.
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