SURAT: A day after England women’s wicketkeeper Sarah Taylor hung up her boots, citing anxiety and depression as the reason, India women’s T20I skipper Harmanpreet Kaur told this newspaper that the team has requested the BCCI for a mental conditioning coach or a sports psychologist.
“We are working on that (the mental aspect of the players),” she said on Saturday.
“We have requested the BCCI for someone like a sports psychologist, who can travel with us. We have spoken to coach as well. Nowadays, the pressure is high. You need someone to discuss things when they are not fine.”
With the team comprising of young blood — Shafali Verma being the youngest at 15 — the aspect of maturity to handle high-pressure situation becomes crucial.
While Harmanpreet revealed that she turns to her father whenever she is not in a good headspace, not everyone might have a go-to person.
“You never know who can help you perform and give you some sort of direction. I have my dad with whom I can share anything. We have that bonding where we don’t need to talk every day but if there is something bothering me, he helps me sort things out. We don’t know if everybody in the team has that someone.”
At the same time, she also feels it may not be easy to find someone the team can trust.
“To find a good consultant is not an easy job. It’s not like you can bring in anyone. You need someone who you can trust and give us confidence that the person is going to be helpful. Hopefully, we will get someone soon because I feel it is a necessity.”
Sarah took a break from incessant cricket in 2016 and was part of England’s World Cup-winning squad in 2017. At just 30, her announcement shocked many. Apart from her, in recent times, Australia opener Nicole Bolton has also spoken about her battle with mental health.
“It is a good decision for them. Taking a break is vital. People may judge them, thinking they are mentally weak and that’s why they are on a break. But you need guts to come up and say ‘I am not well’ and ‘I need a break’. I’m sure they are strong and that’s why they have taken that decision.”
The Indian women’s hockey team has brought on board a sports psychologist this year. The benefits reflected in their results. “In the end, your life is important. I know only one thing: sports. If I don’t enjoy it, what is the point of playing cricket?” said Harmanpreet.
With the importance of mental health on the rise, a sports psychologist may go a long way in making this team contenders in the World T20 next February.