Former Proteas spinner Paul Harris has revealed ‘a certain level of depression’ after retiring from international cricket.
Left-armer Harris played 37 Tests and three ODIs before ending a 14-year first-class career with a final appearance for the Titans in early 2013.
‘Once the decision is made there are a few thoughts that go through the mind of the retired individual. They range from what am I going to do now? How am I going to support a family? These thoughts have been made slightly less stressful for a select few in recent times,’ he wrote in a column for livecriconline.
‘I was one of those who went through a certain level of depression post-retirement. I was by no means at a suicidal level but there was certainly a level of depression. I was in the fortunate position of having the support of family during this time.
‘There needs to be more done throughout a sportsman’s career to prepare him for the inevitable retirement phase of life – whether it is financial guidance through to upskilling during one’s career. Understandably there needs to be a willingness from the individual to improve themselves but more can and needs to be done in this regard.’
The second half of Harris’ career coincided with the emergence of the Indian Premier League. Several players have benefited from extended careers on the back of lucrative contracts with IPL franchises.
‘Some players have had the luxury of the commercial upliftment that has come from the wonderfully successful IPL. This tournament has single-handedly changed the commercial status of cricket throughout the world,’ added Harris.
‘For those who didn’t have this luxury, post-retirement can be one of the most stressful times in one’s life. Finding one’s “place” after cricket can be daunting and there is not much in terms of support.
‘The various players associations have made decent strides in the last few years with a certain level of support, but not nearly enough. You often hear of retired cricketers going through deep depression and in severe cases even suicide or suicidal thoughts.’
England’s Jonathan Trott, Michael Yardy, Marcus Trecothick and Steve Harmison – and New Zealand’s Iain O’Brien – are among several cricketers whose battle with depression has been publicised.
Photo: Getty Images