Cricket and Mental Health: Addressing the Psychological Challenges Faced by Cricketers

Cricket trains not only every muscle but also the thought process. This sport is emotionally draining because of its duration and uncertainty. Even though the competitions are gradually getting shorter, the mental toll on the athletes is immense. In Ben Stokes’ documentary Phoenix from the Ashes, we see a man under extreme stress. The captain of England’s 2021 team took a six-month break from the game due to panic attacks and the psychological pressure he was subjected to while playing in tournaments.

Difficulties of cricketers

Cricket players are at high risk of distress, anxiety, depression, and alcohol abuse. Compared to normal people, cricket players are more likely to experience significant symptoms of depression and anxiety. Suicide rates among cricket players are expected to be high.

In the 1990s, the England cricket team came to India and this was accompanied by numerous tabloid and newspaper headlines about the personal family problems of its captain Graham Gooch. It turned into a real show and an example of how player privacy was not something that was high on the agenda in the open field of racy gossip. “This is a completely personal matter for Graham and he should deal with it in the way he thinks best,” the president of the County Cricket Board said at the time.

Unlike the mental strain of professional cricket players, playing stimulates healthy excitement and is not harmful to health.

The comfort and well-being of players in cricket is a serious issue, as it is one of the most demanding sports and involves long absences away from family and friends. In 1993, the England team went on a 13-week tour of India and Sri Lanka. The Guardian wrote that this tour included “nine hours in a cramped second-class sleeping compartment,” en route to another crushing defeat. At the time, attitudes towards team spirit and individual player comfort were more liberal. “It’s about a sense of unity within the team, an understanding of what you do, you know your role, and the other players believe in you. I never had that feeling with England,” Phil Tufnell recently said on the Cricket Show podcast.

What was changed?

A few months ago, the Professional Cricketers’ Association said the internal structure as it stands is unsustainable. Sportspersons claim the game puts commercial revenues ahead of the welfare of the players. Schedules in 2024 are tight: some counties will play T20 matches on consecutive nights, with four-day games scheduled afterward without the necessary rest and recovery period. It must be considered that fans are paying almost £200 for a day ticket for the Ashes, a series that has been scheduled in June and July to accommodate the Hundred. So the real winners may not be the players or the spectators. You can also turn out to be a winner as well if you use an online betting app.

The onset of the pandemic has certainly added to the stress for touring teams. Many players, spending most of their time away from family and with minimal freedom, are looking for escape. Back in the early 21st century, David Frith’s book Silence of the Heart claimed a higher suicide rate in cricket than in any other sport. “Cricket has a compulsive nature and an inherent uncertainty that can damage the soul,” said the book’s author after following the lives of individual cricketers throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.

When Bumrah, the Indian bowler, was seen celebrating by dismissing Stokes in Hyderabad on the first day of the test, both of them had a big smile on their face as they understood each other’s love for cricket. It was a moment of a glimmer of hope in which cricket can act as a game to be enjoyed and not rather a game to be suffered and endured. Let the incompetent administrators realize it when?


What sort of benefits could cricket have on mental health? It is not only the bodily health that is enhanced in the game of cricket but also the mental health. Cricket is a game that is quite demanding in terms of focus and concentration. Cricket players have to be quick in thinking while batting and fielding and also have to remember the tactics of their team and the rules of the game. This can give them a strong mind. It also makes one feel good and successful, which may then lead to increased confidence and self-confidence in the long run.