Cricket deserves praise for understanding complexity of mental illness



The writer Mark Rice-Oxley believes cricket should be praised for understanding the complex mental issues a number of players have suffered from in recent years.

Rice-Oxley, who has been studying depression in the sport for a number of years, believes the sport has made great advances in the past decade compared to other sports.

The author was speaking after the English batsman Jonathan Trott was forced to return home from Australia yesterday evening due to a stress related illness.

Rice-Oxley told News Anois: “there is a far more forgiving environment in cricket toward mental illness now and much of this is thanks to Marcus Trescothick”.

Trescothick, once a talisman for the English national team, was forced to leave the international scene in 2006 due to a stress related illness.

Rice-Oxley said: “once this wall had been broken down it led to a much greater degree of understanding in the global cricket society and with mental illness matters public understanding is absolutely crucial.

Rice-Oxley warned that the “crazy scheduling” involved in international cricket would guarantee that players will continue to develop mental illnesses, with frantic travelling meaning players can often go months without seeing their friends.

“The international game is full of amazing highs but also, often more frequently, such demoralising lows”, said the experienced writer.

The Australian test player Ed Cowen defines the psyche of cricketers as “spending more time thinking about our next inevitable failure than our next success”.

In order to soften the severe psychological strain test cricketers endure Rice-Oxley argued that confrontation is required between cricket players and international authorities.

However before that could occur the players would have to unite in their belief, something unlikely to happen in the future as some players are keen to maximise their wage while others, often older, are more aware of the effect intense travel can have on the mind.

Rice-Oxley labelled some of the early press treatment of Trott in the Australian media as “crass and insensitive”, while he was extremely critical of Piers Morgan, who yesterday tweeted that winners never quit in relation to the English batsman’s affairs.

“Sport is often painted as a gladiatorial contest… but finally we’re beginning to see the stigma attached to mental illness in sport dissolve”.

Ronan Morrissey

Ireland versus Australia review


Credit WikiCommons

IN a mere 80 minutes the excitement surrounding the Irish rugby team came to a shuddering halt. After a comfortable victory over Samoa expectations were high that Ireland could defeat Australia. In the end the Irish were no match for an Australian team that oozed class throughout the game.

The game started slowly as Quade Cooper and Johnny Sexton exchanged penalties in the opening minutes. Australia scored the first try of the game through winger Nick Cummins as Quade Cooper began to put his mark on proceedings.

The Wallabies extended their lead minutes later as flanker Michael Hooper coasted through some slack Irish defence to put them 15-3 ahead. After 25 minutes Ireland were in real trouble. The final 15 minutes though saw them rally.

With Hooper sent to the sin bin Ireland scored nine points through the boot of Johnny Sexton to cut the deficit at half time to three points. However Ireland’s hopes of victory were dashed as Sexton limped off with a hamstring injury.

Indeed it was Australia who landed the opening blow in the second half as Cooper ghosted through more weak Irish defending. Cooper and Ian Madigan, who replaced the injured Sexton, traded further penalties.

The game was effectively ended as a contest when Australia scored their fourth try in the 67th minute. They mauled their way over the Irish try line to leave the score at 32-15.

Ireland gallantly tried to raise a gallop in the final moments of the game but could not penetrate the Australian defence. It was a disappointing game for Ireland where nothing seemed to go right.

Their defence was far too passive for the duration of the game. Any time Australia had possession they looked like scoring. In stark contrast the Wallabies dealt with Ireland’s attacking efforts comfortably.

The biggest worry for Ireland was how quiet their big names were. The likes of Paul O’Connell, Jamie Heaslip, Brian O’Driscoll and Tommy Bowe struggled to get into the game.

On the other hand, Australia had big performers all over the pitch. Israel Folau was simply majestic under the high ball catching everything in sight. Quade Cooper directed the Australian back line like Mozart conducted his finest orchestra. Ireland had no answer for the Australian talisman.

Up front Stephen Moore and Michael Hooper carried with purpose whilst Ben Mowen topped the tackle charts with 13 tackles.

It is not all doom and gloom for Ireland. After all, it is only Joe Schmidt’s second game in charge. It does not get any easier though as the mighty New Zealand are up next on Sunday.

Out of the frying pan and into the fire.

John Lillis