Nic Maddinson opens up on battle with mental illness
Nic Maddinson hit a century in his only Shield match this season.© Getty

The Australia and Victoria batsman Nic Maddinson has opened up on his battles with mental anxiety, two years after he took a break from cricket.

In January 2017, at the age of 27, Maddinson announced that he was stepping away from cricket for personal reasons. At the time, he had played three Tests but returns of 27 runs saw Maddinson dropped. In the Big Bash League that followed, Maddinson, playing for Sydney Sixers, could manage just 75 runs at 10.71 in seven matches.

In an interview with Fox Sports, Maddinson this week revealed what forced him to walk out of a New South Wales training session at the MCG two seasons ago.

“Probably at moments throughout the Big Bash. It’s similar to when you hear Olympians say they try so hard and put their whole life into one goal and when you don’t get it you don’t really know what to do with yourself,” he said. “I still enjoyed playing and I still enjoyed being out on the field, but everyday activities like getting up and going to the gym or going to training, doing those extra little things I lost a bit of drive to do. Training in the nets all week for a Shield game, I flew down to Melbourne and just in the nets in the space of about two minutes I knew it wasn’t the place I needed to be. I needed to get away and take a break, refresh mentally.

“I was facing balls from Trent Johnston, the coach, and I thought ‘this is not what I want to do today’. I walked outside the MCG and across to Punt Road and made a few phone calls, and that’s when I decided I needed to step away for a couple of games.”

For Maddinson, the difficulty of telling his family and inner circle of his battles with mental health was great, but it was the right decision.

“A bit of a relief in the end. Being uncharted territory (for me) in terms of taking a break from the game, I wasn’t sure what to expect or how it would go down,” he said. “I called my parents and let them know what was going on and it was positive reinforcement I was doing the right thing.

“It was quite emotional telling my parents because to tell them I was going to miss a couple of games and I wasn’t in the right headspace to play cricket was the hardest thing to tell them. But they were very accepting of it.”

Maddinson ended his brief hiatus later in 2017 and returned for NSW in October that year. He scored 70 in a Sheffield Shield match and then two sparkling one-day hundreds in one week. The following season, Maddinson moved from NSW to Victoria and this Shield season scored 162 and 10 in his only match before a broken arm sidelined him. 

He is currently playing for the Melbourne Stars in the BBL,  having signed a three-year contract last year, with scores of 2, 5 and 6 so far.