“It’s important we see mental health in a similar way to a player with a physical injury,” declared England women cricket team’s coach Mark Robinson about star player Sarah Taylor missing out on World T20, starting November 9, 2018. One of the best wicketkeepers in the world, Sarah has had a relapse of anxiety-related issues and will be sitting this World Cup out.
It’s heartening that England Cricket Board (ECB) taking Sarah’s mental health seriously. Just like a physical injury, a mental health issue should be treated with the same gravity. The last time 29-year-old suffered from severe anxiety was in 2016, right after World T20.
Anxiety issues did affect her performance. Her batting was lacking sheen as she could only score 49 runs in 5 matches in World T20 2016. Post-tournament she had to undergo Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).
The burden of expectations does take a toll on players. The wicketkeeper-batswoman is backed by England coach Mark Robinson, as he told cricketnext:
“It’s important we see mental health in a similar way to a player with a physical injury. You wouldn’t risk a player if you felt that playing them with an injury would increase the chances of them being out for a long time or the issue even becoming career-threatening.”
As a coach you wouldn’t want to risk cutting short the career of a player who has more than five years of cricket left in her. Robinson explained the situation further,
“At the moment, she isn’t in a place where we would all be comfortable that the demanding training, playing and travel schedule wouldn’t potentially put her backwards and make her road to full recovery longer. Since the end of the summer Sarah hasn’t been able to train fully with the squad due to not being as fit as she would want to be from a psychological point of view.”
Maybe other boards should get inspired by ECB’s concern towards their players in future. Robinson’s hopeful of her comeback in 2019 as he concluded,
“Sarah will continue to train at Loughborough at a pace more suited to where she is right now with a view to hopefully being fully fit in the new year. All of our players’ health and well-being is the most important thing and we must never lose sight of that in the intense and demanding world of professional sport.”
Sarah recently got awarded as Guardian’s women cricketer of the year. In her interview she revealed that she is not ashamed of her issues and we hope that she emerges victoriously at the end of her battle.