In an exclusive chat with the Indian Express, Praveen Kumar opened up on how he has been tackling mental health problems for the past few years, stating that he also came close to end his own life.
In fact, rather shatteringly, Praveen confessed that he ventured onto a highway off Meerut a couple of months ago and had decided to pull the trigger on himself. At that juncture, countless thoughts went through the pacer’s mind, with one in particular dominating his thinking.
I told myself, ‘Kya hai yeh sab? Bas khatam karte hain (What’s all this? Let me just end it)’.
Fortunately though, the fast-bowler eventually decided against it, although it took him every ounce of energy to convince himself. For Praveen, things had gone such pear-shaped since his last cricket contest that he felt isolated and marooned on an island that he could barely relate to.
Yet, the thought of him leaving behind an uncomfortable space for his children prompted him to put aside the gun and drive back towards his house on a cold winter morning in Uttar Pradesh.
I realised I can’t do this to my phool-jaise bachche (innocent children), put them through this hell. I turned back.
At the turn of the previous decade, India rejoiced in the prospect of boasting a genuine ‘magician’ in their ranks. Praveen Kumar, who could make the ball talk like no other, was touted for exceptional conquests, especially after taking the world by storm during the 2007-08 Commonwealth Bank Series Down Under.
Yet, it fell apart, rather dishearteningly, meaning that he had to undergo years away from cricket, a sight that kept eating away at him every passing minute. The demons grew so discernible that the fast-bowler even thought about ending his own life, just a couple of months ago.
Throughout his career, Praveen often embodied the carefree, go-lucky personality that everyone aspires to be. Deep down though, the pacer wasn’t just waging a battle against the opposition. In fact, much more distressingly, he was trying to convince himself that there remained light at the end of the tunnel.
Subsequently, he opted for therapy, wherein he regularly stated to the doctor that he felt lonelier than ever and that he had been unable to completely switch off his thoughts.
He also conveyed that he hoped to return to cricket in some capacity, especially with Uttar Pradesh, in order to fill the cricket-shaped void that had threatened to undo all the good work he had done previously.
In recent times, there have been cricketers who have spoken on how mental health should remain the top priority, especially when talking about professional athletes who find themselves in the sporting world’s cauldron of pressure.
Thus, one hopes that the bravery shown by Praveen helps other cricketers to also step forward and talk openly about their mental health issues.