Written by Benlia
As biosecurity bubbles and onerous match schedules become an integral part of modern cricket, there has been a dramatic increase in mental health cases among international and local cricketers.
Major stars in cricket such as Ben Stokes, Dom Bess and Kate Cross are very open to their struggles, and it’s certainly not just an issue at the elite level, but it also spreads to the local level.
Mental health and cricket are taboos for many. It wasn’t until Marcus Trescothick abruptly quit international cricket in 2007 – due to mental health issues that conversations on the subject began to emerge.
His autobiography “Get Back to Me” (co-authored with Peter Hayter of The Cricket Paper) is a brave and candid account of his mental weakness. This book begins to pave the way for a better understanding of the unique stresses experienced by modern professional athletes.
open cricket is a mental health and suicide prevention charity established in memory of Alex Miller of Sefton Park Cricket Club (Liverpool). Alex took his own life in 2012.
Founded in 2014, founder Mark Boyns believes that being with the right group is critical to positive mental health.
He said: “A big theme we discussed in our meetings with clubs was what we can do individually, but also as a team and as a club to create the right environment.
“If someone shares something and it’s well-received and supported, we can do an incredible thing for our teammates and friends.
“Mental health has become a key issue during the pandemic and players like Kate Cross are open to her struggles.”
Cross has been an open trustee for many years. The England star said in 2021 that life in the biosecurity bubble had severely affected her mental health.
“Sports like ours naturally lead to good mental health, and it’s everyone’s responsibility to keep that in mind,” Boynes said.
“Those who don’t play team sports will look at it and think there’s something appealing about wearing white and standing in a field for six hours, but if we can say it’s good for our mental health, then we can go ahead and discuss it.”
Sunday Times football reporter Jonathan Northcroft is also an open trustee. Northcroft works in the field of exercise and knows the mental health effects of exercise.
He thinks Mark has done an excellent job of spreading the word.
Northcroft said: “I think the work Mark has done while visiting so many clubs has left a message for people.
“The reason for the growth is because of the quality of Mark’s work and the never-ending thirst for information, because mental health is an ongoing process that requires support.”
To date, Mark and his volunteers have conducted over 350 meetings in the UK and Australia, with growth and positive responses from participants.
Mark has built a platform to ensure sports people have support no matter what the difficulties and know there is always help when they need it most.
The message of open cricket is simply to use the sport to promote positive mental health and ensure that what happened to Alex in 2012 doesn’t happen again.