Lehmann: We can do more for players’ mental health
Darren Lehmann claims he would not have survived his term as Australian cricket coach without the help of a psychologist called in for extra mental support for players.
Lehmann is acutely aware of the mental stresses of sport after being at the helm of the Australian side during the ball tampering scandal when key members of the team became emotional wrecks.
He believes that while Cricket Australia is treating mental health "pretty seriously'', more can be done.
"I was lucky to have (Doctor) Michael Lloyd travelling with us and with all the ups and downs I had as Australian coach I would not been able to survive without his input,'' Lehmann said ahead of Australia's opening Test against Pakistan at the Gabba on Thursday.
"Its is paramount teams have that mental health support when they travel. The accessibility is getting better but it still can go to a new level.
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"That is what Cricket Australia and the state associations have to look at. Put more money into the program so that there is more people the players can speak to at any given time.
"Cricket Australia has taken it pretty seriously but I think they can take it more seriously. I think every sporting team can.
"Mental health is a huge issue, not just in cricket but in all sports. We have had three in three weeks. You just hope that those players get back to feeling better within themselves.''
Lehmann himself has had to plough through many emotional challenges after last year's ball-tampering affair but is now back on course as the new coach of the Brisbane Heat after a summer of commentary he said had rejuvenated his love of the game.
Recently departed national selector Greg Chappell, whose presence in the game has spanned 50 years, says social media and the inability for modern players to get out and unwind for a beer has contributed to increased risk factors for mental health.
"There wasn't the glare of publicity, there weren't mobile phones everywhere, we could get away from time to time and just go out and have a few quiet beers or a meal somewhere and just forget that you were international cricketers for a while," Chappell told Whateley on SEN Radio.
"It's a different era, we were part-time cricketers, it wasn't our living - we had a real job and we played cricket for fun.
"We could just walk away and have a quiet night out and be left alone and not have people pointing the fingers and say, 'what are you doing having a couple of beers in the middle of a Test match?"
Chappell said the relentless modern schedule also had him concerned.
"The spotlight is right on them -- for 10 months of the year these guys are on the road," he said.
"It is very demanding and they're away from their support mechanisms, their families, their coaches and if things aren't going well, they've got a lot of time to dwell on it and that can't be healthy.
"I don't have the answer … but somehow we've got to find a way to help these guys get through."
Indian captain Virat Kohli this week praised Glenn Maxwell as an inspiration for taking time out of the game, indicating he wished he'd been brave enough to do the same on a particularly stressful tour of England earlier in his career.
"I think what Glenn has done is remarkable," said Kohli.
"It has set the right example for cricketers around the world that if you're not in the best frame of mind … it should be fine for cricketers (to do that). Things shouldn't be taken in a negative way at all because this is happening at a human level."