Kohli emphasises on mental health ahead of India vs Bangladesh Test series
Indian skipper Virat Kohli praised Australian all-rounder Glenn Maxwell's decision to take some time away from cricket to deal with mental health-related issues, and urged other international players to communicate the same if they are not in the right frame of mind. Maxwell has taken a sabbatical and missed a portion of the T20I series against Sri Lanka and the entirety of the series against Pakistan to deal with his mental health. Soon after, Nic Maddinson pulled out of Australia A's warm-up fixture against Pakistan due to the same reason.
It was the third instance in recent times that an Aussie has taken a break from the game, after Will Pucovski took a break to deal with anxiety and depression. However, while a number of players around the world, including Sarah Taylor, have been upfront in addressing their mental health demons, no Indian player has ever come out and spoken about his mental health. Kohli urged the Indians to take such steps too and asked the public to support them.
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Kohli also touched upon the dismal tour of England in 2014 when he was unable to get going and scored just 134 runs in five Tests and revealed that he was down mentally after the tour but could not take a break as he was unsure how such a decision would be received.
"I've gone through a phase in my career where I've felt like it was the end of the world. In England 2014, I just didn't know what to do, what to say to anyone, how to speak, how to communicate. To be honest, I couldn't have said I am not feeling great mentally and I want to get away from the game, because you never know how that's taken."
"I think these things should be of great importance because if you think that a player is important enough, for the team and for Indian cricket to go forward, I think they should be looked after," Kohli said.
The Delhi player also hoped that a strong communication corridor is created for every international player, where they feel free to voice their opinions. "When you get to the international stage, every player that's in the squad needs that sort of communication and that ability to just speak out. I think what Glenn [Maxwell] has done is remarkable and it sets the right example for cricketers all over the world that if you're not in the best frame of mind, you try, you try, you try. But I think as human beings you reach a tipping point at some stage and you need some time away from the game."
"Not to say that you give up but just to gain more clarity and you tend to take more space, which I think is quite acceptable and quite a nice thing to do. I think these things should be respected and not taken in a negative way at all because this is happening at a human level, it's got nothing to do with what you do on the field or not. Just not having the capacity anymore to deal with things, which I think can happen to anyone so I think it should be taken in a very positive way," he said.
Recently, Yuvraj Singh had advocated an Indian Cricketers' Association to help cricketers from the country take regular breaks from the sport if mentally tired without the fear of losing their spot in the side.
"We deserve it (a players' association). Because there are a lot of times we have been asked to play cricket that we don't want to. We have to play with the pressure that if we don't play we will be thrown out," Yuvraj stated.
"That pressure has to go off the players that even if they are tired or fatigued or carrying injuries, they have to play," he said. "That support should be given to the players. We see outside India, if players are fatigued and tired mentally, like is the case with (Glenn) Maxwell, he has taken a break because he is feeling it.
"Our players can't do that because they fear they may lose their place. So a players' association is very important," said Yuvraj.