From the outside, the life of an International cricketer appears to be an envious one.
Playing sport for a living only in the warmer climes in locations such as the Caribbean, Australia, Sri Lanka, and India hardly sounds like a hardship, however, there is one aspect of cricket that dwarfs any form of other sport and that is being on Tour.
International cricket tours can last months at a time and be a serious drain psychologically, emotionally as well no doubt being incredibly lonely.
In just over a months’ time, the Cricket World Cup comes to England with the hosts favourites in the ICC Betting to win their first ever title, whereas the English and Welsh players get to spend the entire tournament with their families, spare a thought for those having to travel to England and potentially spend over two months away from home.
However, even that can pale into nothing when consider an Ashes Tour between England and Australia contests of five test matches, a series of ODI’s and T20 matches as well as a host of warm up games.
It means any players involved in multiple squads can be away for three months or more at a time.
Former Australian fast/medium bowler Glenn McGrath was quoted as saying playing an Ashes series required 80-90% mental strength.
Cricket can be a brutal game and statistically a player will fail either with the ball or bat more often than they will succeed.
That means large quantities of time spent between games leaves a player with plenty of time to reflect on their failings and that can be a recipe for disaster.
Depleting one’s mental reserves over a long period of time has led to may cases of depression among cricketers even after retirement but things are starting to change.
So, how do cricketers cope with the psychological impact being on tour for such a long period of time?
The first thing that ensures any immediate signs a player shows of ‘not quite being themselves’ is that the lines of communication are kept open with the ‘stigma’ attached to speaking out if one is struggling to cope well on the way to being banished.
However, general boredom must surely set in and players and team personnel have often found themselves on the wrong side of the media despite a culture of ‘what goes on tour stays on tour’.
These days with the advent of communication via social media channels, contact with family is easier than it has ever been, and, in most squads, camaraderie seems to be very high.
Often, family join players overseas but one key thing does appear to be changing, the length of tours.
As Australia head to England for not only the World Cup, but then an Ashes series, the Australian cricket board have opted not to play a warm up against a local County side with only an Australian ‘A’ side set to take to the field prior to the first test.
The game of cricket is changing with the mentality seemingly to be that long tours are more of a burden and soon to become a thing of the past.