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Yardy: Flower helped me with my illness


Andy Flower, England's coach, was aware of Michael Yardy's battle with depression almost six months before the all-rounder withdrew from the latter stages of last year's World Cup and to all intents and purposes ended his international career.

Yardy has revealed in the 2012 edition of Wisden Cricketers' Almanack, which is published today, that he told Flower about his problems. "He was unbelievably supportive," Yardy said. "It was a huge relief just to tell him."

Flower put him in touch with a behavioural therapist and sports psychologist.

Yardy's depression first had a direct impact upon his career when he pulled out of England's last one-day international against Pakistan in September 2010. At the end of a fractious series, with revelations about Pakistani spot-fixing in full swing, nobody outside the England set-up bothered to consider why Yardy's Sussex team-mate Luke Wright had been preferred.

"Deep down I knew I was in a bad place," Yardy said. "I was very tense and living on a very short fuse. I could never please myself, was constantly striving for more and setting unrealistic goals, which just increased the pressure on myself. I have always liked my own space, but now the very act of being around people became an effort. My mind was saying: 'They don't like you anyway. You're a loser.' My negative thoughts were ruling my life."

Yardy went to the World Cup looking forward to his first experience of cricket in India, but his erratic bowling form was apparent in what was to prove his last ODI. "I was out of the team and remember operating at a training session in a daze. Our spin-bowling coach Mushtaq Ahmed, a great friend and former Sussex team-mate, insisted I needed to think about my health. At this stage I knew I needed to go home."

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka batsman Kumar Sangakkara has become the first man to be named simultaneously as Wisden's leading cricketer in the world and one of its five cricketers of the year.

The left-hander compiled 2,267 international runs last year and uniquely reached four figures in both Tests and one-day internationals for the third time.

Tim Bresnan is also nominated, though he had other things on his mind yesterday. The England all-rounder is getting married today in the Maldives but spent yesterday wearing a life jacket at his hotel reception fearing a tsunami after the under-water earthquake off Indonesia.

Lancashire's Glen Chapple, Worcestershire's Alan Richardson and England's Alastair Cook complete the five.

Famous five: Wisden's cricketers of year

Glen Chapple Like a fine wine, Lancashire's 38-year-old captain gets better with age. Bowling all-rounder who should have played more for England. Led Lancs to first county title in 77 years.

Alan Richardson Journeyman seamer (37 next month) who is rewarded for regular wicket-taking with Worcestershire.

Alastair Cook England run-machine who put the Aussies to the sword.

Tim Bresnan England all-rounder who has won all 11 Tests he has played in.

Kumar Sangakkara Sri Lankan batsman supreme and good guy to boot.

Marc Padgett

Hilfenhaus inspires stunning Australian comeback

Australia sealed a dramatic comeback win by three wickets in fading light on the final day of the opening Test against West Indies in Bridgetown last night.

Chasing a teasing victory target of 192 over the final two sessions, the tourists sneaked home in a nervy chase that was led by Shane Watson’s 52.

Australia bowled out the hosts for 148 on the stroke of lunch, with Ben Hilfenhaus grabbing 4 for 27, before they initially laboured in pursuit.

Watson and Ed Cowan (34) laid the platform for the chase but, after part-time spinner Narsingh Deonarine claimed four quick wickets, Australia needed Michael Hussey to blast 32 from 26 balls to get them home in the gloom.

The match had been drifting to a draw until Hilfenhaus’s three wickets in six balls that removed the West Indies top order, justifying Michael Clarke’s earlier bold declaration.

He had called his batsmen in 43 runs short of the West Indies total of 449 after tailender Harris’s maiden Test half-century, and an unbeaten 77-run stand with lastman Nathan Lyon, turned the momentum his side’s way.