Sydney: A survey of retired Australian players has found that a quarter of them experienced depression and feelings of helplessness after quitting professional cricket.
The Australian Cricketers' Association, which conducted the survey, contacted every player who had retired or been forced out of cricket at international or state level since 2005.
It found that 39 per cent of participants experienced high levels of stress and anxiety for two weeks or more after retirement; 25 per cent experienced depression or feelings of helplessness for periods of two weeks or more and 43 per cent felt they had lost a sense of their identity after finishing their cricket career.
ACA chief executive Paul Marsh told the Sydney Morning Herald more had to be done to help players approaching retirement which is "a very difficult time in a player's life."
"That's when the reality hits so we've got to transition them from one career to the next career," Marsh said. "A huge part of what we do is trying to get them ready whilst they're playing cricket. You try and soften that blow by preparing them. Some players don't see the end coming for various reasons. It's obviously a pretty brutal career path, professional sport, and you can be on a contract for as little as one year."
The survey comes at a time of increasing focus on the mental health of top players after England batsman Jonathan Trott was forced to quit the Ashes tour of Australia because of a "stress-related illness."
Marsh said the survey results are preliminary and only focus on players who came out of the Australian system after 2005 because that was when the ACA began a $1 million program to assist retiring or recently-retired cricketers. He said top players often linked their identity to sporting achievement and had a lack of balance in their lives.
"I don't think there is any definitive research on this but I think cricket is a game that lends itself to the types of mental health issues that we've seen," Marsh said. "One reason is the international guys spend so much time away from home and that can be difficult. And there are not many sports that I can think of that your own personal performances are so identifiable and therefore under scrutiny.
"In your football codes you're part of a team, you can have a good or a bad game but you can hide behind playing your role for your coach. In cricket, it's there for everyone to see."