Virat Kohli on depression: 'Had a phase, thought it was end of the world'
DEPRESSION HAS mostly been a taboo subject in Indian sport. But on Wednesday, cricket captain Virat Kohli opened up on the topic to reveal that during a tough phase in his career five years ago, he thought “it was the end of the world”.
Kohli was speaking to reporters on the eve of the Test against Bangladesh in Indore — and days after Australian allrounder Glenn Maxwell’s decision to take a break from the game, a day after he had scored an international hundred, to handle depression.
Stressing that he “absolutely” supported Maxwell’s decision, Kohli said: “I have gone through a phase in my career. I had felt that it was the end of the world. I just didn’t know what to do and what to say to anyone, how to speak, how to communicate. To be honest, I couldn’t have said that I am not feeling great mentally and I need to get away from the game. Because you never know how that’s taken. You know when you get to the international stage, every player that’s in the squad needs that communication — that ability to speak out.”
Kohli was referring to the 2014 tour of England where he scored just 134 runs in 10 innings.
Like athletes in high-pressure sports, many cricketers have faced a constant battle with depression over the years. Former England players Marcus Trescothick, Jonathan Trott and Graeme Fowler, and New Zealand great Richard Hadlee, are among those who have admitted to battling depression.
Trescothick flew back from the India tour of 2006 because of anxiety and depression. Hadlee revealed that he had once even considered taking his own life.
“I think what Glenn (Maxwell) has done is remarkable. He set the right examples for cricketers all over the world,” said Kohli.
“If you are not in the best frame of mind, you try, try and try, but as human beings you reach a tipping point at some stage or the other and you need time. Not to say that you give up but just to gain more clarity, you tend to take a bit more space which in my opinion is quite acceptable and quite a nice thing to do when you are not able to carry on anymore. I think these things should be respected and not taken in a negative way at all,” he said.
This is not the first time that Kohli has spoken about the “phase” in 2014. Two years ago, he told the website Cricbuzz: “People have gone into depression and it’s a very dangerous situation. I have gone through those times. What I learnt from it is that failures are an opportunity to learn. You want to represent your country, score runs but when those things don’t happen, you stoop down to a level of confidence where it’s really devastating. Not many people realise how badly criticism can hit an individual and it can ruin someone’s life if they don’t find a way out of it.”
Many cricketers have blamed the pressure to perform consistently through a packed schedule as one of the main reasons that push players to the edge.
“The boards are scheduling so much cricket now that players are effectively playing 11 months a year, a large part is spent away from the home and support systems. I dread the day when I wake up and read that a player, former or current, has killed themselves. It’s the biggest issue facing the sport and it’s growing. Sadly, we don’t recognise it,” Heath Mills, who heads the players’ association in New Zealand, had told this newspaper earlier.