Sheldon Jackson, one of Saurashtra’s batting mainstays, has revealed how collective frustrations led him to nearly walk away from the game. Jackson, 32, explained how not coming near to getting an India cap, along with personal problems took a toll on him mentally sometime during last December, calling the period a “dark phase.”

“It was the hurt, maybe, of being ignored season after season. It’s as if some voice is telling you: ‘Mate, you aren’t good enough. Nice try, but sorry.’ That hurt. All of it contributed to a dark mind space I found myself in [at the start of the season]. It’s hard to say if I would’ve retired, but I wasn’t in the best mind space,” Jackson told ESPNcricinfo, referring to not making the India A cut despite scoring 854 runs at an average of 47.77 during the 2018-19 Ranji Trophy season.

“I had to battle inner demons. My mother wasn’t well, I wasn’t feeling well physically. Batting seemed a chore. I had this feeling that whatever I score isn’t going to be noticed anyway. Only my wife, mother and Chirag Jani [his Saurashtra team-mate] knew what I was going through.”

The previous season, Saurashtra ended runner-up losing to Vidarbha in the final, but that did not dim the hunger to score runs in Jackson as the year later, the team lifted its maiden Ranji Trophy title. Jackson’s contribution was a solid 809 runs from 10 games at an impressive average of 58.41.

“I’ve had time to look back at what has been a challenging season, one that knocked me at different times, although on the outside, it looked like nothing could go wrong. I’d planned a short holiday with friends after the Irani Cup, but that had to be cancelled. I’m happy changing nappies, doing duties of a nightwatchman at home, spending time with my new-born son,” he said.

“I’m feeling light. It’s natural for me to have expressed disappointment, you aren’t human otherwise. But now I have new perspective. There’s purpose to my game, to keep going regardless, without expecting that reward. It’s the love for the game.”