New Delhi: The fear of unknown, instilled in one and all due to the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, has exposed the mankind to its sternest test of the century.
Sportspersons are no different as they wait for normalcy to return in everyday life.
Mental health issues of sportspersons is now a serious topic and recently Australia coach Justin Langer advocated the need to keep a tab on the younger lot as to how they are coping up with trying times.
In the midst of a 21-day lockdown, PTI spoke to a few current and former cricketers to understand how despite it being a long lockdown, India's sportspersons are mentally stronger.
Maninder Singh, Manoj Tiwary and Irfan Pathan say India's "family structure helps us cope with unprecedented crisis" while Deep Dasgupta had a slightly contrarian view as he felt that it would be "interesting test of familiar relationships".
"I believe that India's close knit family culture is something that will help us cope with mental pressure during these uncertain times. I am constantly travelling and now I get to feed my son lunch everyday. It's a completely new experience but worth it," Manoj said while explaining the difference with some of the western countries.
"You probably see a 21-year-old player from some of the first world country living alone all by himself. He has IPL riches, loves to party, enjoy life. And then something like this happens. You are alone and suddenly all negative stuff keeps crossing your mind. And as they say idle mind is a devil's workshop," the 34-year-old said.
Irfan spoke about how most of our sporting community which comes up through hardships become tougher in the long run.
"If you look at England, Australia, if you don't have jobs, the government takes care and gives you financial support till you again become self sufficient. It's a great thing. You have very little to worry. In India, we have to earn it the hard way. We learn hardships from early age," said the former India all-rounder.
And of course family support matters, he agrees with Manoj.
"They are with you because they love you unconditionally and not when you are on top of your game. Unlike players of other countries, we have a support system to fall back on. In my home, I have my elder brother, his family, my family our parents. Once you are done with your job, you know you are coming home to a full family," Pathan said.
Maninder, former India left-arm spinner, who has battled depressions, although for entirely different reasons, put it aptly.
"Khali ghar mein kisse baat karogey aap? Deewaron se? (You can't talk to walls in an empty house). Loneliness is never good. Having family and friends around helps. Be in a positive environment. We have our struggles and I don't think our players would need mental help."
Dasgupta however is not so sure but said the coming days would provide an interesting case study.
"These 21 days will be a test of relationships and how our support system works. Everyone is talking about quality time but who defines what quality? We all are busy with our lives, and in between when we get time, we have till date, called it quality.
"But now quality is the new normal because we are doing it 24/7. How we evolve is the question as our support group (family) is also going through same experience," Dasgupta said.
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