Ian Chappell says Cricket Australia needs to figure out root cause of cricketers' mental health problems

Young Victorian batsman Will Pucovski has become the third Australia cricketer to report mental health problems to the team management two weeks after Glenn Maxwell took an indefinite break from the game

Press Trust of India, Nov 14, 2019 17:07:19 IST

Melbourne: Former Australia captain Ian Chappell on Thursday said that the burgeoning issue of mental health, forcing active players into sabbaticals, has reached "almost epidemic proportions" in his country and urged the cricket board to immediately address the matter.

Young Victorian batsman Will Pucovski has become the third Australian cricketer to report mental health problems to the team management in just over two weeks after international stars Glenn Maxwell and Nic Maddinson both took breaks from the game.

Ian Chappell says Cricket Australia needs to figure out root cause of cricketers mental health problems

File image of Ian Chappell. AFP

Pucovski has withdrawn from the reckoning for the first Test against Pakistan, citing mental health issues, as Cricket Australia (CA) looks to get a grip on the situation.

"It's a helluva problem. It's almost epidemic proportions," Chappell told local radio station 3AW.

"It's all well and good to be saying it's very courageous of these guys to come out and speak and yes, it is brave, but CA has got to get to the bottom of what's causing this," the 76-year-old Australian great said.

Pucovski, who had taken two breaks to deal with his mental health last summer, has informed Australia A team management that he is struggling, days ahead of the Test series against Pakistan.

Pucovski, who hit 243 for Victoria in a Sheffield Shield game against Western Australia last year, also withdrew from the Test squad against Sri Lanka last February for the same reason.

CA's head of national teams Ben Oliver applauded Pucovski "for having the courage to discuss his situation".

"Will's decision not to nominate for Test selection was the right one in the circumstances and one that everyone in the Australian cricket family supports," he said in a statement.

"By Will bravely taking this position, he will undoubtedly inspire others facing similar challenges to speak up and take positive steps towards improving their mental wellbeing."

The issue has gained significance with many prominent voices like India captain Virat Kohli speaking about the mental struggles of a top-flight player.

Asked about Maxwell's self-imposed break from the game, Kohli on Wednesday offered his support and said it was "remarkable" of the dashing Australian all-rounder to admit mental health issues. Kohli recalled a phase in his own career when he too battled "end of the world" thoughts but didn't know how to even communicate them.

Maxwell, who has played 110 one-day internationals, 61 T20Is and seven Tests, is on an indefinite break from cricket after pulling out midway through the T20 series against Sri Lanka last month.

Maddinson, who played three Tests in 2016, withdrew from this week's Australia A match on mental health grounds.

In England, there have been players like Steve Harmison, Marcus Trescothick and Graeme Fowler, who have dealt with depression.

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Updated Date: Nov 14, 2019 17:07:19 IST

Rank Team Points Rating
1 India 5046 120
2 New Zealand 2829 109
3 England 4366 104
4 South Africa 3177 102
5 Australia 3672 102
6 Sri Lanka 3795 95
Rank Team Points Rating
1 England 6745 125
2 India 7071 122
3 New Zealand 4837 112
4 Australia 5543 111
5 South Africa 5193 110
6 Pakistan 5019 98
Rank Team Points Rating
1 Pakistan 8366 270
2 Australia 6986 269
3 England 5568 265
4 South Africa 4720 262
5 India 9349 260
6 New Zealand 6056 252