Mental health is a very important but neglected aspect in the game of Cricket. Therefore, in a welcoming move, Russell Domingo, head coach of the Bangladesh Cricket team, said that he is open to give the freedom to the players to express their mental fatigue, something that is considered a taboo and looked down upon in the sub-continent.
Domingo, who was born in Port Elizabeth, told Cricbuzz upon being contacted, “Regarding mental fatigue I think it’s something players need to be honest and open about. Not all players will be comfortable to talk about those aspects, but we want to create an environment where in our team, our players can openly talk about how they are feeling and whether they need a break, and whether it’s mental or physical, we have got to respect that because it’s an important aspect to the game.”
Former Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza also addressed the issue. Mortaza, who has been playing for Bangladesh for over 18 years, feels that the issue isn’t taken as seriously in Bangladesh due to a different ‘social reality’.
“Mental health is not as important to us here. Our social reality is different. We don’t have the opportunity here to talk about depression as Marcus Trescothick or Glenn Maxwell can. If someone says he’s not feeling good then we may assume he is scared or making an excuse. Many people even do not feel that way. Those who do, do not express or feel the need to do so,” said Mortaza.
Ali Khan, a Canadian sports psychologist who was born in Bangladesh, spoke extensively about the issue. Khan, who has worked with the Bangladeshi Cricketers on two occasions, said, “If this (mental fatigue) experience is prolonged for a while a player experiences exhaustion, lack of motivation, boredom, difficulty concentrating, etc. Which are the common signs of mental fatigue. It not only affects our brain, due to the immense amount of stress hormone in our blood, the body also becomes less efficient. As a result, the player’s productivity and performance declines and [he/she] losses the drive to practice or perform.”
Khan added that taking a break can act as a getaway from the mental stress but more importantly proper psychological intervention (Therapy) can be an effective method to bring the player in the right mental status.
“Taking a break is the most common and effective way to heal mental fatigue. By which the brain and body get time to heal by itself. Little extra sleep, nutritious food, and healthy recreational activities effectively help to change the biochemistry of our brain and body and regain mental and physical energy,” he said.
“However, a player can take a break but still may continue the stress-related thought in his head. In this situation, the player might remain exhausted and continue to multiply the mental fatigue condition. On the other hand, often due to the ongoing competitive season or important tournament they might not be able to take a break. In both situations, proper psychological intervention (Therapy) can be an effective method to bring the player in the right mental status.”
“In our country gradually we have started to realize the importance of mental aspects of the game, but yet we are not scheduling the Psychological Skill Training (PST) in our daily routine. Sometimes, our players are taking it seriously when they are badly paying the price. It is a reactive and costly solution. Plenty of talents are draining out due to the lack of mental fitness. Since Bangladesh cricket is competing against the world’s top nations, we have to be proactive in developing mental fitness so that we can remain steady in the various pressurised condition and able to reduce the performance fluctuation,” he concluded.