February 13, 2008

Cricketers open up

It is a mark of maturity that the likes of Shaun Tait, Lou Vincent and Marcus Trescothick have made public their turmoil
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Tait decided to withdraw from the fray with a view to reviving energy and enthusiasm © AFP

In the space of a few weeks two prominent and respected cricketers have broken ranks with the macho presentation that has long been part and parcel of the sporting ethic, to inform their families and other interested parties, namely the entire game with its secret concerns and hidden emotions, that they are suffering from the form of emotional trauma often simplified under the banner of "depression". It is in many respects a breakthrough and cricket is in their debt. Old-timers may talk about malingerers and weak characters but most of the modern breed are more sympathetic, and most honest ancients will look back on their careers and remember how close they came at various times to reaching the same impasse.

Of course it reaches beyond sport and any particular ailment. Not so many years ago I came across two fine young people, a boy and a girl, an African and an Australian, whose lives had been devastated by a little known and often reluctantly diagnosed but rapidly spreading disease called stress fatigue syndrome. They were suffering terribly, and it was worse because their problem was not a broken leg or a bout of flu, something that could be seen on an x-ray or detected by an alert parent. Rather it was an inside job that undermined them, destroying their self-confidence, exhausting them and yet remaining in the shadows.

In those days stress fatigue was little recognised, and in some quarters even scorned. But I knew these youngsters and held them in high regard. They were sick, very sick, and the greatest care had to be taken with them. Luckily, their parents were wise and trusting, and after many, many awful months that stretched into years, the two youngsters started to recover their strength and eventually were able to resume their notably productive lives. Thank goodness they were surrounded by elders prepared to listen and to take their ghostly illness seriously.

No one exposed to experiences of this sort joined the loud brigade that decried stress fatigue. To the contrary, it has become clear that stress is the root cause of many contemporary ailments. Because a sickness cannot be pinned down does not mean that it is a figment of our imagination or a reflection of our weakness.

Although using the word "depression" to describe a state of mind that is commonplace in less rarefied arenas is usually avoided in sport, owing to the lingering stigma attached to it, the manner in which Lou Vincent and Shaun Tait described their ailments leaves little room for dispute. In these times of self-doubt it might be as well to remember that wars have been won by leaders suffering from the self-same torment, including Winston Churchill, whose black dog troubled him even as the bombs rained down on London. No one has ever dismissed Churchill as a soft touch, or lacking character, or any nonsense of that sort.

As emerged during Marcus Trescothick's time of torment last summer, cricket has long since moved past the idea that mental struggles are an embarrassment. That sort of view is retained only by relics still somehow persuaded that sport is played by comic-book heroes and other simpletons. Sensible people have accepted and even conveyed the complex realities. Every little thing helps.

In interviews given years ago to Mike Coward, a distinguished Australian scribe, Dennis Lillee and Geoff Marsh talked openly about how hard they had found it to adjust to "civilian" life. Michael Slater has spoken without any hint of coyness about his ups and downs. Determined to counterpoint a notably cheerful first offering, in 1983 I wrote a book called It Never Rains, therein describing the turbulent range of emotions endured during a season, and afterwards was surprised to find that many other players, Australians included, had seen themselves in its pages.

Other sportsmen have also invited the world into their hearts the better to show their true selves and to encourage others afflicted by bleakness. Several AFL players have spoken about their battles with depression, thereby counterbalancing the dangerous notion that their game is all about high catches and darting movements, that it is played by jovial automatons. In fact, of course, every sportsman lives every day of his sporting life with vulnerability. The end never seems far away, failure lurks around the corner. But sportsmen, especially, must walk the walk or else opponents and rivals will pounce, for a field is a jungle and no sign of frailty must be shown, or else the issue will be over before it has begun. Anyone who plays sport at a high level, in public, has already shown considerable fortitude. The problem arises in those living on the edge of their ability, ordinary men and women in many ways, called beyond their capabilities. For them every day is an ordeal, every success a blessing.

 
 
Others deal with the situations in their own ways, with reckless conduct, drink and so forth. One man's recreation may be another man's appeal for attention. By different routes, Trescothick, Tait and Vincent arrived at the same conclusion. For the time being the game they were playing, the life they were leading, was not worth the turmoil
 

Even public figures have opened themselves to scrutiny. To his infinite credit, Jeff Kennett, a robust and apparently invincible former premier of Victoria, has dedicated his post-political life to advancing our understanding of depression and thence our attitudes towards it. Trescothick's case confirmed that enormous progress has been made. After all, he was an England opening batsman about to start an Ashes series. How could anything encroach upon his excitement? Yet Trescothick went home, and then came the most significant moment of the entire episode. No one condemned him, not the conservatives or the liberals, not the old or the young, not the shockjocks or the humanists. All and sundry echoed the old refrain, "There but for fortune, go you or I."

Not that Trescothick , Tait and Vincent ought to be put together in a single bag, for that is to oversimplify. From a distance it seemed that Tait's complications were caused by a combination of factors; an unusual action that he could not rely on to deliver the goods when it mattered, a series of injuries, some thoughtless handling in the national side that left him short of bowling and confidence, and a sense that he did not quite belong in this company either as a cricketer or as a man. His bowling was out of tune with his personality so that he sounded like a firebrand even as he sought reassurance. Wayward remarks about his action by an embattled touring coach cannot have helped settle him down either.

Accordingly, Tait decided to withdraw from the fray with a view to reviving energy and enthusiasm. A few months' rest and a few months of bowling without pain are required and then he can think about his next step. His ability took him into a world he may not relish. It is not that he was born to play the game. Anyone living in the public eye enjoys benefits but also makes sacrifices. Not everyone enjoys the intrusion.

From a distance, Vincent has been another case. It is not that he had doubts about cricket as a game or way of life. Rather it is that he wanted it too much yet suspected he was not quite good enough. Accordingly, the stabs cut him to the quick. Perhaps he has lacked the thick skin that has carried other men along, the laughter needed to endure, the sense of absurdity that comes later, in the time of reflection.

Not long ago Colin Miller said that he considered himself to be the luckiest cricketer on earth. He had taken up spin bowling because he had a hangover one morning and surprised himself by taking wickets in club cricket. Suddenly, he was in the right place at the right time and was playing for his country in the middle of an unprecedented run of victories. Refusing to take himself seriously, he eventually turned his hair blue and withdrew. Now he tells his stories amiably on the talk circuit and meanwhile offers his services to anyone interested, including national teams. He might think about becoming a counsellor.

Vincent is a good batsman who already has served with distinction. Now he has gone a step further by drawing attention to his plight. He is not alone. Batsmen live and die by the next ball. Of course, youth is not as much affected as it has not encountered the difficulties and anyhow regards itself as immortal. Vincent rose to the edge of his abilities, and perhaps beyond, and he knew it. Too intelligent to deny the fact, but unable to reveal his concerns lest his stock fall in the rooms, he tried to keep going, but once the brain is tired the game cannot recover. Indeed the troubled sportsman finds himself trapped in a destructive pattern. Sportsmen rely on freshness of mind.

Others deal with the situations in their own ways, with reckless conduct, drink, and so forth. One man's recreation may be another man's appeal for attention. By different routes, Trescothick, Tait and Vincent arrived at the same conclusion. For the time being the game they were playing, the life they were leading, was not worth the turmoil. It is a mark of their maturity that they have not ducked the issue but rather presented their cases to a public so much better informed and prepared to listen. They have taken charge of their lives in a manner that will commend itself to all right -thinking people.

Peter Roebuck is a former captain of Somerset and the author, most recently, of In It to Win It.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • rightarmover on February 18, 2008, 2:39 GMT

    Well written i must say, i can understand how that can be, i was suffering from depression when i was playing in Perth WACA Grade cricket and instead of taking the expected steps up to further grades, my cricket totally fell away as did my love for playing the game and for the sake of myself and the club i pulled out. One paticular game i was felt so down i couldnt even land the ball on the wicket to save myself, i still cant explain what happended other than depression destroying my confidence and i realised during that game that i needed to get out of it fast. The club didnt recognise my problems and i quickly fell by the way side. I hope that Tait, Vincent and Trescothick can recover their confidence in themselves not just for crickets sake but for their own.

  • Nige_C on February 16, 2008, 8:31 GMT

    It is interesting that in NZ over the past couple of years there has been a campaign headed by a high profile sportsman (John Kirwan ex All Black)to try and get people to have greater understanding for those with mental illness. Perhaps this change of perception within NZ has enabled Vincent to step forward. In fact if anyone should be able to sympathize with Vincents plight it should be Sir Richard Hadlee (NZ selector). He suffered from stress and fatigue in the mid eighties and underwent a complete transformation both mentally and physically (he shortened his run up causing national outrage). With the retirement of Fleming NZ needs Vincent and his experience for the tour of England. Lets hope that there is the support in place for Vincent to achieve this as compared to the total lack of support in Hadlee's day.

  • Tumbarumbar on February 16, 2008, 3:50 GMT

    Utthaman are you taking some form of mind bending medication? Why can't young men have depression? I suffered an injury that effectively ended my chosen career and have had ongoing depression since the age of 23 largely as a result of the trauma surrounding that, I didn't choose to have it and I don't let it run my life, but at my worst I couldn't honestly have put my hand on my heart and told my friends or team mates I was doing my best at anything. I'd guess that's where Shaun Tait is right now - how can you play a team sport if you feel you can't give your best? As for Tait's action you must be looking through the same glasses as John Bracewell if you think he chucks. Tait has a lot of problems with his action but he sure doesn't chuck.

  • masterblaster666 on February 15, 2008, 4:42 GMT

    To Utthaman: There is nothing per se wrong with a sling action..it is just that not many pace bowlers use it, probably because it is a little more difficult to control your line and length with such an action. I really don't know what prompted NZ to raise whispers about Tait's action.

  • azaro on February 14, 2008, 16:39 GMT

    Yes, there is no reason that sports workers are any different than other workers so it is inevitable that a percentage will suffer these types of conflicts. I just think it needs to be considered in the whole scheme of things. Pressure can create extreme stress in many susceptible people and depression is a clinical condition.

    Of course it is more fashionable to write about houshold names from sport, movies or the political arena but the stress is no more or less on those individuals laid-off by the economic downturn and in danger of losing their homes through the sub-prime mortgage debacle. Celebrities do, however, generally have the advantage of riches to help them get the help that the average person cannot afford.

  • ozziefan08 on February 14, 2008, 7:37 GMT

    I think Shaun Tait has to be applauded for walking away from the game as he did. He could've just played on and bowled poorly. To say that his action is dubious is rubbish, if Muttiah Muralitharan can be cleared with a "correct action" then anyone in world cricket can. Tait needs the time off, and i suggest he will bounce back stronger than before. Anyone who says he hasnt proved himself yet is crazy, he was one of the main reasons we triumphed in the west indies. International teams are just scared of him. They have a right to be.

  • greenwood on February 14, 2008, 7:06 GMT

    Just for the record there are and were gay cricketers of both sexes. In Sydney they even have a tourney of sorts.

    Back to the subject of stress.

    All people react in different ways to different stimuli and this reaction can and does take different forms at different ages and differing social and economic conditions of which stress is one form, aggression is another (it could be argued that this is a relief of stress), as is withdrawal, indifference, acceptance and so on. Some people are born without the ability to be stressed - life is a cruise. Others can find the smallest thing stressful - life is a worry.

    Murali and Warne seemed, and I repeat seemed, to cruise through their troubles. Others like Walters, Greenidge, Richards, LLoyd and Co never seemed to have any. Others wore their heart on their sleeve like Hughes (K - not Merv, God knows how to describe him!).

    With regard Tait, what Hussey said is probably the most poignant and correct - the players must support him as

  • Utthaman on February 14, 2008, 2:59 GMT

    In my opinion Shaun Tait has taken a break from cricket to get his action corrected.New Zealand has already filed a complaint to ICC regarding his action and he was under scrutiny regarding that because just one match before his retirement he was so confident and pumped up that he said he would run through the Indian side and not only that he wanted to play the test match at Perth even though he bowled poorly in Sydney.Australian Cricket Board would have seen a defect in his action and would have adviced him to take corective measures,so he was not left with any choice but to take break.Lou Vincent,Strauss and Thorpe look genuine canddidates for 'Breakdown due to stress' but Shaun Tait is young hasn't proved anything and for him to say that he is effected by stress looks dubious.

  • LisaDun on February 14, 2008, 0:04 GMT

    Some have inherent strengths to fight it out. Murali is a classic example. Some others might not have the same courage. Team management and sport authorities should have systems and resources to identify the very sensitive and vulnerable players such that appropriate counselling could be available when needed.

  • kiruthikan on February 13, 2008, 23:07 GMT

    Good Article Indeed. But Peter's Comment about Newzealand Coach's doubts over Tait sound a bit weird. Why Peter Can't see beyond Australia? What about Murali, Harbhajan, Akther, Shaqlain and other Asians. Whenever they became a challenge to Australia, some Aussie or two would raise doubts about their action and massacare them..............IS CRICKET IS ONLY ABOUT AUSTRALIA PETER?....(Think how many times Murali was put under pressure by aussie media and think how many times he proved himself by going through tests?)

  • rightarmover on February 18, 2008, 2:39 GMT

    Well written i must say, i can understand how that can be, i was suffering from depression when i was playing in Perth WACA Grade cricket and instead of taking the expected steps up to further grades, my cricket totally fell away as did my love for playing the game and for the sake of myself and the club i pulled out. One paticular game i was felt so down i couldnt even land the ball on the wicket to save myself, i still cant explain what happended other than depression destroying my confidence and i realised during that game that i needed to get out of it fast. The club didnt recognise my problems and i quickly fell by the way side. I hope that Tait, Vincent and Trescothick can recover their confidence in themselves not just for crickets sake but for their own.

  • Nige_C on February 16, 2008, 8:31 GMT

    It is interesting that in NZ over the past couple of years there has been a campaign headed by a high profile sportsman (John Kirwan ex All Black)to try and get people to have greater understanding for those with mental illness. Perhaps this change of perception within NZ has enabled Vincent to step forward. In fact if anyone should be able to sympathize with Vincents plight it should be Sir Richard Hadlee (NZ selector). He suffered from stress and fatigue in the mid eighties and underwent a complete transformation both mentally and physically (he shortened his run up causing national outrage). With the retirement of Fleming NZ needs Vincent and his experience for the tour of England. Lets hope that there is the support in place for Vincent to achieve this as compared to the total lack of support in Hadlee's day.

  • Tumbarumbar on February 16, 2008, 3:50 GMT

    Utthaman are you taking some form of mind bending medication? Why can't young men have depression? I suffered an injury that effectively ended my chosen career and have had ongoing depression since the age of 23 largely as a result of the trauma surrounding that, I didn't choose to have it and I don't let it run my life, but at my worst I couldn't honestly have put my hand on my heart and told my friends or team mates I was doing my best at anything. I'd guess that's where Shaun Tait is right now - how can you play a team sport if you feel you can't give your best? As for Tait's action you must be looking through the same glasses as John Bracewell if you think he chucks. Tait has a lot of problems with his action but he sure doesn't chuck.

  • masterblaster666 on February 15, 2008, 4:42 GMT

    To Utthaman: There is nothing per se wrong with a sling action..it is just that not many pace bowlers use it, probably because it is a little more difficult to control your line and length with such an action. I really don't know what prompted NZ to raise whispers about Tait's action.

  • azaro on February 14, 2008, 16:39 GMT

    Yes, there is no reason that sports workers are any different than other workers so it is inevitable that a percentage will suffer these types of conflicts. I just think it needs to be considered in the whole scheme of things. Pressure can create extreme stress in many susceptible people and depression is a clinical condition.

    Of course it is more fashionable to write about houshold names from sport, movies or the political arena but the stress is no more or less on those individuals laid-off by the economic downturn and in danger of losing their homes through the sub-prime mortgage debacle. Celebrities do, however, generally have the advantage of riches to help them get the help that the average person cannot afford.

  • ozziefan08 on February 14, 2008, 7:37 GMT

    I think Shaun Tait has to be applauded for walking away from the game as he did. He could've just played on and bowled poorly. To say that his action is dubious is rubbish, if Muttiah Muralitharan can be cleared with a "correct action" then anyone in world cricket can. Tait needs the time off, and i suggest he will bounce back stronger than before. Anyone who says he hasnt proved himself yet is crazy, he was one of the main reasons we triumphed in the west indies. International teams are just scared of him. They have a right to be.

  • greenwood on February 14, 2008, 7:06 GMT

    Just for the record there are and were gay cricketers of both sexes. In Sydney they even have a tourney of sorts.

    Back to the subject of stress.

    All people react in different ways to different stimuli and this reaction can and does take different forms at different ages and differing social and economic conditions of which stress is one form, aggression is another (it could be argued that this is a relief of stress), as is withdrawal, indifference, acceptance and so on. Some people are born without the ability to be stressed - life is a cruise. Others can find the smallest thing stressful - life is a worry.

    Murali and Warne seemed, and I repeat seemed, to cruise through their troubles. Others like Walters, Greenidge, Richards, LLoyd and Co never seemed to have any. Others wore their heart on their sleeve like Hughes (K - not Merv, God knows how to describe him!).

    With regard Tait, what Hussey said is probably the most poignant and correct - the players must support him as

  • Utthaman on February 14, 2008, 2:59 GMT

    In my opinion Shaun Tait has taken a break from cricket to get his action corrected.New Zealand has already filed a complaint to ICC regarding his action and he was under scrutiny regarding that because just one match before his retirement he was so confident and pumped up that he said he would run through the Indian side and not only that he wanted to play the test match at Perth even though he bowled poorly in Sydney.Australian Cricket Board would have seen a defect in his action and would have adviced him to take corective measures,so he was not left with any choice but to take break.Lou Vincent,Strauss and Thorpe look genuine canddidates for 'Breakdown due to stress' but Shaun Tait is young hasn't proved anything and for him to say that he is effected by stress looks dubious.

  • LisaDun on February 14, 2008, 0:04 GMT

    Some have inherent strengths to fight it out. Murali is a classic example. Some others might not have the same courage. Team management and sport authorities should have systems and resources to identify the very sensitive and vulnerable players such that appropriate counselling could be available when needed.

  • kiruthikan on February 13, 2008, 23:07 GMT

    Good Article Indeed. But Peter's Comment about Newzealand Coach's doubts over Tait sound a bit weird. Why Peter Can't see beyond Australia? What about Murali, Harbhajan, Akther, Shaqlain and other Asians. Whenever they became a challenge to Australia, some Aussie or two would raise doubts about their action and massacare them..............IS CRICKET IS ONLY ABOUT AUSTRALIA PETER?....(Think how many times Murali was put under pressure by aussie media and think how many times he proved himself by going through tests?)

  • wise-one on February 13, 2008, 20:19 GMT

    sachintha81 did you read the article?!!!

    to others who are looking for a "cause" so they can have an "opinion". dont bother- its not the sledging or any single contributing competitive factor. Depression is part genetic, part social, economic, psychological, biological and neurological and more. it takes victims.

    modern medicine is still in its infancy wrt its treatment and most of it is more like management of symptoms than treatment..at best. Many never recover and deal with it for the rest of their lives.

    in fact it is popular professional opinion that drug dependency is very much related to mental health issues- those being most vulnerable..so its a big deal as drug dependency sprouts into other desperate situations.

    stress fatigue is an interesting twist in terminology though- maybe more palatable to those who follow sport and supermen. Over time, the brain changes under certain conditions- not unlike that experienced by war vets. this is real, serious and not a weakness.

  • Ed_Lamb on February 13, 2008, 17:13 GMT

    I agree whole-heartedly with Promal's comment - Graham Thorpe missed out on quite a few Tests because of issues brought on by his marital problems but throughout his career, whenever he played and was totally focussed, he was superb so he deserved to have the support of all those around him. Players who are injured get support, players who have mental or fatigue issues should be treated the same.

  • Geagle on February 13, 2008, 16:46 GMT

    hmmm. Cricket does seem to be behind the times - so conservative. I have not heard of any gay cricketers as well. I find it hard to believe that not a single cricker, current or past, is gay. In fact, many of them are really attractive and will really sought after by gays.

  • whits106 on February 13, 2008, 14:43 GMT

    Great article. Going thru the illness myself I know what it's like. Although I didn't have the added pressure of being an elite sportsperson, everyone who goes through it needs one thing: support. It's not the words you say, or the actions you do for them, it's simply being there for them. To the user "three": What's the problem with Shaun Tait saying it was going to be a whitewash 4-0 series victory? What would you expect him to say? I'm sure all the Indian's were expecting for a 4-0 victory in their favour and the Sri Lankans a 2-0 earlier in the summer. It's part and parcel of the game and the reason people crumble - The pressure that is placed on them. Tendulkar is testament to someone who can handle pressure (weather they be personal expectations or public). While Tait and Co, obviously can't. This isn't a bad reflection on them, it simply shows the varying range of human psychology and mindset. With time however, this can be altered. And I hope for crickets and their sake it is.

  • promal on February 13, 2008, 13:52 GMT

    Another point I would like to add is regarding Graham Thorpe. He too left cricket for a while when his marriage was in free-fall and was suffering through severe depression and then came back a much stronger and better player. He eventually left the game on his terms and on a high, even though he was dropped for the Ashes 2005. Moreover, his autobiography that he wrote after his retirement is extremely courageous and one of the few where a cricketer reveals all his personal turmoil in a book for all to read. He should also be mentioned and commended in this regard.

  • masterblaster666 on February 13, 2008, 13:18 GMT

    @three: I feel too sympathetic for Tait to rub it in about Perth..nevermind that he's not gonna read this anyway. But I agree, that is a big part of the problem, he put too much pressure on himself coming into the Perth Test. If, like Ishant at Sydney, he had merely been luckless but had bowled well, it would have helped his cause. But he was in no sort of rhythm at all and one could see that coming out on the field on Day 4 after Irfan Pathan had handled him with ease on Day 3, he looked pale and shattered. It's easy for us viewers to be wise in hindsight, but I am really surprised that the whole Australian team didn't pick up anything of it at all...to put it in a crude way, he hardly looked the part of an aggressive, confident Australian cricket player on Day 4, he wanted out.

  • CricFanSD on February 13, 2008, 12:46 GMT

    Cricket sure has raked up a lot of issues off late, from racism to sledging to none more disturbing than depression.I once remember seeing a story on ESPN-star about how depression affects cricketers the most amongst all sportsmen.It makes a lot more sense now.Hectic travel schedules,game after game,practice session after practice session and nothing less than a good performance personally and teamwise is the motto.Time away from your family and the pressures to succeed must be taking a huge toll on one's psyche.Sachin Tendulkar's insane obsession has partly shielded him from these pressures mainly because of his undying enthusiasm.His strength of character has what's taken him through.Mental toughness is an overused but misunderstood word.The fringe players are affected the most by the pressures of the game.The uncertainty of being in the side or not is what plays more on their mind than their actual performance I'd say.These issues will be hard for every cricket fan to understand.

  • delboy on February 13, 2008, 12:06 GMT

    Is this a case for the entire WI team to take a long break from all forms of international cricket?

  • Desy on February 13, 2008, 11:54 GMT

    The game is all about financial gains these days. Most of these players play full time cricket for their respective countries but are still looking to play County,IPL,ICL..And perhaps not taking that due rest they need. So people breaking down not being able to handle the pressure is obvious.

  • shankargg on February 13, 2008, 11:04 GMT

    Well said Peter. Everything that's there in society is also there in sports, because sports people come from society. The need to fortify the mind should not be seen as a "special course", it is as basic as running laps around the ground to warm up. There are not enough loving people in the world, people who can give love. Everyone performs well when in a good mood, but the good mood comes when you experience love in some way. But then who will give this love? Everyone wants it. Technology advances, but life keeps getting tougher.

  • Drapes on February 13, 2008, 11:02 GMT

    We could see how Lou Vincent struggled early in his career, it seemed as if when the team didnt perform he was the one they dumped almost instantly , i love his cricket yet u sene he was never happy with his own game, im an australian and its a big thing to say bit i love watching new zealand play and hope lou gets fit and makes a world class comeback

  • Barathraj on February 13, 2008, 10:54 GMT

    Depression is an illness like any other illness such as cancer or even a broken arm. The fact that a broken arm or cancer can be (most times) cured by medical attention is not an option available a lot of times for mental fatigue as shown by Trescothick. He bravely tried again to overcome his demons but then it was all too clear that he could not survive in the cauldron of Australia where the Pontings of the world allowed their team members to sledge the opposition to such an extent that a talented cricketer was unable to ply his trade due to his mental fatigue. Women tend to suffer post natal depression and this is a phenomenon not generally recognised by their better halves (I am one of those as well)and the support and care that people who are depressed require is not generally given to them by people like Boycott who would merely say "get on with it man"!!!Maybe, given more exposure to these problems like Tait, Vincent and Trescothick will result in more people being symapathetic.

  • Sach.S on February 13, 2008, 10:49 GMT

    If I had any respect for Tait, I've lost it. As Jeff Boycott put it, it's in difficult times that you need to prove yourself - not when you're doing well. I too wish he'd shown a bit more character. That's what makes the difference between a good player and a great player. Take Murali for example. For all the crap he got, all the criticism, all the pressure, he should have retired from cricket thousand times if we go by Tait's words. But he hung in there despite everything that is thrown at him and today he emerges as a true champion! Had he quit in those difficult times, nobody would have remembered him. Nobody would say except he could have done this and that. But he has proved today what he could do, and that's character and that's commitment. I wish Tait too could do that...

  • tmdumela on February 13, 2008, 10:23 GMT

    The article sheds relevant knowledge on the growth that sport have undergone. The amount of pressure that is sustained by cricket players (& other sporting codes) has grown in leaps and bounds. What differentiates cricket is touring that takes 2-3 months whereby you go to India, Zimbabwe then South Africa. It requires a lot of mental strength. In the summer of 2005 Stephen harmison lamented of being home sick not because he is a mama's boy nor that he is weak mentally but it is a syndrome - correctly termed stress fatigue.

  • vijujack on February 13, 2008, 10:15 GMT

    Hi Pete, A thought provoking article indeed and I too sympathise with Trescothick, Tait & Vincent, but want to point out that fact that there are so many soldiers fighting wars to which they were sent by their governments, fighting against all odds, seeing death, escaping death. I hope something is being done to help them integrate back to civilian life because what they go through is much worse than what sportsmen go through. Sportsmen arent fighting to stay alive and in these days of mollycoddled pro sportsmen they better keep this in perspective before feeling DEPRESSED.

  • EmaniTeja on February 13, 2008, 9:32 GMT

    I completely agree that depression is not a sign of weakness in a person but that it shows he had a lot more than he can digest. Actually i can this as i have been in depressionfor 4 long years that itsnot only cricketers but many ppl. In different walks of life face this because of the generation we are in where it is the result that matters more than anything else

  • anton004 on February 13, 2008, 9:30 GMT

    very mature three this is just the place for cheap shots, when we are discussing depression. some people clearly just can't rise above parochialism and jingoism

  • three on February 13, 2008, 8:52 GMT

    Players like Shaun Tait compound their misery by inflicting unnecessary pressure on themselves by their bravado---"predicting" how the India series will be a 4-0 whitewash in favour of Australia, and how he is going to blow off the Indians out of the WACA with his chin music and all that. However, there has been no word from him about how the whitewash or the chin music eventuated. It might help players to withstand pressures if only they learn to be realistic, balanced, decent, respectful of other players, and humble like Andrew Symonds suggested for non-Australian players to be!

  • apyboutit on February 13, 2008, 8:24 GMT

    Nice one. But I hope this one was not just born out of a knee jerk reaction against a honest comment from Boycs. Because otherwise its import will lose its universality. Nevermind the intent, I am still in the same page as the author. Such stress is all the more the reason for Aussies to avoid "mental disintegration" as a means on the field. It harms many feeble teams, who do not enjoy the positive environments of the Australians. Plus, they (the Australians) are unnecessarily pushing a new harmful bar up, which I guess could come around to hurt them more. Not only Australia, everyone should shed sledging. Hats off to Tendulkar and Federer for their mental strength and character.

  • Vipgup on February 13, 2008, 8:24 GMT

    I completely agree with Mr. Peter Roebuck.People like Lou Vincent and Shaun Tait deserve to be applauded for their courage in coming out in the open admitting their ailment. Lets hope for the games sake that both these two recover fully and emerge as much better players and persons.

  • Avi4151 on February 13, 2008, 8:15 GMT

    Nice article, completely agree wth Peter and disagree wth Boycott. Thats why I find it silly when people compare Ponting or othr batsmen wth Sachin. For the simple reason that, the amount of pressure he carries is huge every time he bats for India, and he does that with minimum fuss.

  • masterblaster666 on February 13, 2008, 6:22 GMT

    What has happened to Tresco, Tait and now Vincent points to the sheer pace and volume of cricket being played. I saw a WI-Australia match from 97 yesterday in which WI successfully chased down 282, a steep target at that time. The atmosphere, the players, the commentators, everything and everybody were so relaxed and it's scary to think that all that was just 10 years or so ago. There is immense pressure on teams to win and also to maintain their highest possible intensity all-year round besides which the media subjects them to relentless scrutiny and that is beginning to take its toll on players. Mark Taylor in an interview with this website has said that people take this game too seriously and he couldn't have spoken any truer words. Now the best umpire we have at present says he needs more family time and is thinking of quitting the ICC...that I hope is the last straw to arouse ICC out of its slumber.

  • prashant1 on February 13, 2008, 6:08 GMT

    Great article. Only serves to bewilder me even more as to how Tendulkar hasn't gone stark raving mad as yet.

  • Aditya_mookerjee on February 13, 2008, 5:24 GMT

    It warms my heart, that a busy, distinguished writer, finds the time to reason thus. I, too, could not help my emotions, in the past. When I say this, I mean, my negative emotions. Because we like our positive emotions, we negate negative emotions, we do not like to negate. Perhaps, this part of our psyche, can be explored, by certain individuals.

  • Revnq on February 13, 2008, 4:57 GMT

    Nice article on an issue that affects more people than one would expect. That said, I'm still awaiting with bated breath a response from a certain Yorkshireman named G Boycott, after his comments regarding Shaun Tait's decision, despite praising ol' Tresco previously for his.

  • kpn4 on February 13, 2008, 4:40 GMT

    I completely agree with this assessment. We should commend players who are willing to prioritize quality of life over cricket. It reflects intelligence and character. The days of the "gentlemen" cricketers are over, thankfully!

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  • kpn4 on February 13, 2008, 4:40 GMT

    I completely agree with this assessment. We should commend players who are willing to prioritize quality of life over cricket. It reflects intelligence and character. The days of the "gentlemen" cricketers are over, thankfully!

  • Revnq on February 13, 2008, 4:57 GMT

    Nice article on an issue that affects more people than one would expect. That said, I'm still awaiting with bated breath a response from a certain Yorkshireman named G Boycott, after his comments regarding Shaun Tait's decision, despite praising ol' Tresco previously for his.

  • Aditya_mookerjee on February 13, 2008, 5:24 GMT

    It warms my heart, that a busy, distinguished writer, finds the time to reason thus. I, too, could not help my emotions, in the past. When I say this, I mean, my negative emotions. Because we like our positive emotions, we negate negative emotions, we do not like to negate. Perhaps, this part of our psyche, can be explored, by certain individuals.

  • prashant1 on February 13, 2008, 6:08 GMT

    Great article. Only serves to bewilder me even more as to how Tendulkar hasn't gone stark raving mad as yet.

  • masterblaster666 on February 13, 2008, 6:22 GMT

    What has happened to Tresco, Tait and now Vincent points to the sheer pace and volume of cricket being played. I saw a WI-Australia match from 97 yesterday in which WI successfully chased down 282, a steep target at that time. The atmosphere, the players, the commentators, everything and everybody were so relaxed and it's scary to think that all that was just 10 years or so ago. There is immense pressure on teams to win and also to maintain their highest possible intensity all-year round besides which the media subjects them to relentless scrutiny and that is beginning to take its toll on players. Mark Taylor in an interview with this website has said that people take this game too seriously and he couldn't have spoken any truer words. Now the best umpire we have at present says he needs more family time and is thinking of quitting the ICC...that I hope is the last straw to arouse ICC out of its slumber.

  • Avi4151 on February 13, 2008, 8:15 GMT

    Nice article, completely agree wth Peter and disagree wth Boycott. Thats why I find it silly when people compare Ponting or othr batsmen wth Sachin. For the simple reason that, the amount of pressure he carries is huge every time he bats for India, and he does that with minimum fuss.

  • Vipgup on February 13, 2008, 8:24 GMT

    I completely agree with Mr. Peter Roebuck.People like Lou Vincent and Shaun Tait deserve to be applauded for their courage in coming out in the open admitting their ailment. Lets hope for the games sake that both these two recover fully and emerge as much better players and persons.

  • apyboutit on February 13, 2008, 8:24 GMT

    Nice one. But I hope this one was not just born out of a knee jerk reaction against a honest comment from Boycs. Because otherwise its import will lose its universality. Nevermind the intent, I am still in the same page as the author. Such stress is all the more the reason for Aussies to avoid "mental disintegration" as a means on the field. It harms many feeble teams, who do not enjoy the positive environments of the Australians. Plus, they (the Australians) are unnecessarily pushing a new harmful bar up, which I guess could come around to hurt them more. Not only Australia, everyone should shed sledging. Hats off to Tendulkar and Federer for their mental strength and character.

  • three on February 13, 2008, 8:52 GMT

    Players like Shaun Tait compound their misery by inflicting unnecessary pressure on themselves by their bravado---"predicting" how the India series will be a 4-0 whitewash in favour of Australia, and how he is going to blow off the Indians out of the WACA with his chin music and all that. However, there has been no word from him about how the whitewash or the chin music eventuated. It might help players to withstand pressures if only they learn to be realistic, balanced, decent, respectful of other players, and humble like Andrew Symonds suggested for non-Australian players to be!

  • anton004 on February 13, 2008, 9:30 GMT

    very mature three this is just the place for cheap shots, when we are discussing depression. some people clearly just can't rise above parochialism and jingoism