Kohli Says Players Must Follow Glenn Maxwell’s Mental Health Example

By Dhanu Delphi on November 14, 2019

Australian cricketer Glenn Maxwell surprised the cricketing world when he decided to take a leave of absence from the on-going series against Sri Lanka. The Big Show, who was selected to play the T20 series, had a great outing in the first game in Adelaide, scoring 62 of 28 balls.

Maxwell confided in head coach Justin Langer that he had been battling mental health issues for the last 12 months. The two had a heart-to-heart talk. Then, Maxwell made the bold decision to take a break from the game and work on his mental health.

Virat Kohli Says Glenn Maxwell Has Set An Example

It is the dream of every domestic cricketer to play for their country at the highest level. Once they make it to the international team, cricketers quickly find that they have to absorb enormous amounts of pressure and stress. However, they still must perform consistently.

The long tours away from home, the constant traveling on the road and the hectic schedule of international cricket and T20 leagues like the Indian Premier League (IPL), Big Bash League (BBL) and the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) makes it difficult for players to get any down time.

Most international cricketers are very well aware that they cannot afford to take a break from their ‘job’. Someone else could take their place, perform well and make it difficult for them to return to the side. As a result, most international and domestic cricketers force themselves to keep silent. Therefore, they have to deal with their mental health issues on their own.

Indian captain Virat Kohli believes that Maxwell showed a lot of courage by opening up and sharing his mental health issues with Justin Langer. Kohli appreciated the Big Show for making his health a priority and setting an example for other cricketers to follow. Aussie batsmen Nic Maddison requested for time-off just a few days later for similar reasons.

Indian Players Must Be Transparent

The BCCI currently chooses to rest senior players like Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni. This is in order to enable them to take a break and de-stress. MS Dhoni has opted out of all the T20 and ODI matches after the 2019 ICC World Cup. Virat Kohli was rested for the recently-concluded three-match T20 series against Bangladesh. These senior players are not shy of asking for a break. They know they will automatically be selected when they return.

The rest of the Indian players do not have such comfort or confidence. They know they can be easily replaced by a number of hungry players who are eagerly waiting to take their place. This is one main reason why no Indian cricket player has come forward to complaint about mental health issues or playing too much cricket.

Virat Kohli is very well aware of this mindset amongst Indian players. He believes that they need to change and use Glenn Maxwell as an example. The Indian captain said he went through a tough period in 2014 when India was touring England.

Kohli did not performed very well on that tour. He said he felt like it was the end of his cricketing career. He said he did not know who to turn to and what to say. Kohli wasn’t sure how a sentence like ‘I need a break from cricket as I am not feeling strong mentally’ would sound.

Senior Management Should Watch Players

This is where the head coach and his team of senior assistants need to step up. Just like Justin Langer was able to get Maxwell to open up, Ravi Shastri and his coaching and management staff should be able to create a comfortable and trusting environment for players to open up and express their concerns. So far, the Indian head coach has not made any comment on this topic!