One more victim of modern cricket's constant demands

Mike Yardy's issues show it's time the game took a serious look at a calendar that asks so much of players

The most illustrious cricket depressive of recent years is Marcus Trescothick. His international career was cut dramatically and cruelly short in 2006 by the curse of the illness from which he had suffered for most of his life.

Trescothick wrote a moving book about his ordeal, Coming Back to Me, which was both cathartic and award-winning but he has never been able to resume his rightful place in the England batting order. Had he been able to overcome his affliction, Trescothick would be in Colombo now, preparing to open for England in the World Cup quarter-final tomorrow.

Mike Yardy's illness may differ in its precise nature – for depression comes in many forms and will affect one in four people at some juncture in their lives – but it may be no accident that both men are cricketers who are required to spend unconscionably long periods away from home. Trescothick seemed somehow to have found a method of coping. Although it was patently clear that he found long tours arduous – and averaged 51 per innings at home, 36 away – he managed for a while.

In his book he indicates that what might have finally proved too much for him was an incident at home in which his father-in-law was injured and taken to hospital seriously hurt. Instead of going home to be with his wife, Trescothick was persuaded to stay. But he felt he knew where he ought to have been and never came to terms with his decision. That was in Pakistan in late 2005 and it was early on the tour of India three months later that his torment grew so great that he went home, never to play again for England abroad.

It is unlikely that going on cricket tours is the cause of depression but they have the capacity to exacerbate it. Geoffrey Boycott's embarrassing interview on BBC Radio yesterday demonstrated that there is still some way to go in convincing many people of that, including those who, like Boycott, have been touring for almost 50 years.

"I'm surprised, very surprised," Boycott told the 5 Live Breakfast Show. "But he must have been reading my comments about his bowling, it must have upset him. Obviously it was too much for him at this level. If any blame is attached it's partly to the selectors because I'm sorry, he's not good enough at this level." Yardy is neither the champion cricketer that Boycott was, nor much more importantly, the prize prat that he sometimes is, but he has made the most of his talents and he was a significant part of England's team when they won the World Twenty20 last year.

Boycott's crass inability to grasp the issue merely clouds it when trying to assess how cricket tours can affect depression and whether too much is expected of the modern cricketer. Many of England's players have been away since late October, some of them spending only three or four days at home between the Australian tour and the World Cup. Yardy was not part of the initial squad in Australia for the Ashes but he was playing in New Zealand. He did not go for the money – there would be scant little of that – he went because he wanted to prepare as thoroughly as possible for the biggest one-day tournament in cricket.

But it has taken its toll, as Sussex, the county of which he is captain, seemed to imply yesterday when they said he had been away for nearly five months and now asked for privacy while he spent time with his family. At least Yardy was being asked to peak only once this winter, for the World Cup. Ten of the cricketers in the original squad here were being asked to do so twice, first in the Ashes, the greatest prize in English cricket, and then in the World Cup. It is an onerous business, finding the rarefied level of performance to win in sport.

Players are well aware that their career is short and that they jolly well ought to make the most of it while they can. The rewards for being an England cricketer have never been higher.

Naturally, many of them are at that time of life when their wives are having babies and they are becoming fathers. The fast bowler Jimmy Anderson's wife gave birth to their second child and Anderson was twice allowed home between matches to see his family. Yet during England's match in Chittagong the other day, when the match was slipping away, Anderson aged as if the portrait of Dorian Gray was being unveiled before our eyes. He was without doubt mentally shot, a phrase used privately by some in the team management.

Graeme Swann, a different individual altogether, was home for the birth of his son, Wilfred, between the Australian campaign and this one. And that was that. His paternity leave has been spent trying to get enough purchase on the ball to take England to the World Cup final. He has shown no outward signs of malaise and his Twitter contributions remain as vibrant as ever but he would not be human if he did not prefer to be home.

This article is being written in the confines of a well-appointed hotel room, the 21st that this reporter has stayed in this winter (two, maybe three, to go). Some have not been so well-appointed. Hotel rooms drive players crazy eventually, they drive reporters crazy and anybody who says that you both have the best jobs in the world – and we all know it, we can never forget it – should remember Mike Yardy and the players to come, for whom they are not all days of wine and roses.

Cricketers who have suffered with mental illness

David Bairstow

Represented England in four Tests and 21 one-day internationals. In 459 first-class games for Yorkshire he took 961 catches and 138 stumpings. Committed suicide in 1997.



Phil Tufnell

Took 121 Test wickets for England but trouble with his private life saw him taken to – and escape from – an Australian psychiatric hospital in 1994

Graham Thorpe

One of England's finest batsmen, Thorpe suffered marital problems that made touring a strain for him. He pulled out of two England touring squads before departure.



Marcus Trescothick

England's 12th highest Test run-scorer suffered a stress-related illness on the 2006 tour of India and struggled to regain a foothold in the side.

Arts and Entertainment
books
Voices
Caustic she may be, but Joan Rivers is a feminist hero, whether she likes it or not
voicesShe's an inspiration, whether she likes it or not, says Ellen E Jones
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Sport
Diego Costa
footballEverton 3 Chelsea 6: Diego Costa double has manager purring
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
techSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
Arts and Entertainment
The 'three chords and the truth gal' performing at the Cornbury Music Festival, Oxford, earlier this summer
music... so how did she become country music's hottest new star?
Life and Style
The spy mistress-general: A lecturer in nutritional therapy in her modern life, Heather Rosa favours a Byzantine look topped off with a squid and a schooner
fashionEurope's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln
News
Dr Alice Roberts in front of a
peopleAlice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Arts and Entertainment
Unsettling perspective: Iraq gave Turner a subject and a voice (stock photo)
booksBrian Turner's new book goes back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
News
The Digicub app, for young fans
advertisingNSPCC 'extremely concerned'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Some of the key words and phrases to remember
booksA user's guide to weasel words
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution