Global travel, plush hotels, fat pay cheques, celebrity status, fans lining up for autographs… it seems a dream life. But it’s not. Time and again we have seen cricketers complain of mental stress. Marcus Trescothick, Michael Yardy, Andrew Flintoff, Jonathan Trott, to name a few, have all complained of depression during the prime of their playing careers.
Graeme Fowler, who played 21 Tests for England, was first identified with depression in 2004, 10 years after he played a last First-Class match.
Fowler had once told New Statesman: “Cricket is such a bloody frustrating game. If you’re top-order batsmen, you can be playing well, but then things start going wrong. And you start worrying about your place in the team being under threat and then your contract being under threat. Cricket buggers your mind up.”
The signals were there during his playing days, but he felt it was “was mentally recharging my batteries.”
Says Fowler, “I used to take about five days off at the end the season playing for Lancashire. I’d shut the windows, draw the curtains, lock the door, unplug the phone and then just watch videos. I’d just be on the sofa and not talk to anyone for four or five days. In my way, for me that was mentally recharging my batteries.”
Fowler wife Sarah explains: “Graeme has always had a blue time in October, at the end of the cricket season. That has been true ever since I’ve known him. But the time I really noticed it was in November 2004. He hadn’t come out of his downer and was in a world of his own, not communicating with anybody. We knew he adored us, but he was just unable to do anything.”
Fowler was depressed and didn’t leave house for six weeks and his problem was first spotted by his wife, who eventually convinced him to go see a doctor. In a series of tweets last week, Fowler wrote about depression and shared videos of himself and his family members speaking about the tough times and the remedies. In a video shared by him, he also spoke about the thin line of him ‘not wanting to commit suicide’ but ‘wanting to not live.’ He thanked the role of PCA (Professional Cricket Association) for helping him cope up with this. He also retweeted a few PCA videos.
Fowler took to Twitter with the #TimeToTalk tag and encouraged all his followers to speak up their mind and talk about their depression.
(Suvajit Mustafi consumes cricket for lunch, fiction for dinner and munches numerous other snacks throughout the day. Yes, a jack of several trades, all Suvajit dreamt of was being India’s World Cup winning skipper but ended up being a sports writer, author, screenwriter, director, copywriter, graphic designer, sports marketer, strategist, entrepreneur, philosopher and traveller. Donning so many hats, it’s cricket which gives him the ultimate high and where he finds solace. He can be followed at @RibsGully and rivu7)