Mental health was a taboo subject to discuss in the past, and so many people especially cricketers suffered in silence, in fact, mental health cases amongst cricketers are twice more than the normal population, due to the demanding schedules and pressures of winning, making addiction a very likely option to turn to for self-comfort, however in recent times more & more people have come out to discuss this issue. Today we speak to one such gentleman who has been through this first hand, his an agent to some of the top sporting stars and a former professional cricketer who has played top-level cricket for Somerset, Lancashire and Derbyshire, on Cricktalk20 we have a very Candid Chat with Luke Sutton.
Hi, Luke tell us a little about yourself?
I am a father of Albie & Amelie (twins 11 years old) and am engaged to Jo. I played professional cricket for 17 years for Somerset, Derbyshire and Lancashire as a wicketkeeper/batsman; and was club captain of Derbyshire. I am a business owner, primarily with Activate Management, which works across the sports industry in a number of different ways including talent management.
How did you get into cricket?
I went to a very good sports school called Millfield School and was introduced to cricket when I was 9 years old. I immediately volunteered to be the wicketkeeper and have never looked back.
Who inspired you to take up the game?
No one really. It was just introduced to me at school. I was a swimmer before cricket and was inspired by some of the great Olympians, like Daley Thompson. Graham Gooch and Alec Stewart became my early heroes in cricket though.
If given a chance what player past or present would you love to play alongside with?
I would have loved to play alongside Shane Warne and kept wicket to him. He was just the ultimate competitor with incredible skill.
What is your greatest cricketing memory?
I have so many that it is difficult to pick one out. I remember when I hit my first six at 10 years old and that is as special to me as playing in a big cup final at Lords! Cricket is a wonderful game that gives us countless incredible memories.
You recently published a book, BACK FROM THE EDGE, that is doing pretty well in the market at the moment, would like to tell us more about your book?
It is book about my journey through my professional cricket career to my life completely falling apart through mental health and addiction issues, and being in a rehabilitation centre, to then rebuilding my life and finding happiness. I wanted to share my whole story to breakdown and then to recovery so that it could help other people. I think there is a lot in it that people will be able to relate to whether they are from cricket or not.
In BACK FROM THE EDGE, you have been very candid regarding mental health, Is there a huge problem of mental health in professional cricket?
I think mental health is a major issue for society in general at the moment, not just cricket. But within professional cricket in England the numbers of players seeking help for mental health issues is on the rise. This needs to be taken seriously and not just swept under the carpet. Cricket is so unique in the demands it places on players and with the pressure that social media has brought in recent years, we have to be very careful to help our players’ with their mental wellbeing.
You obviously had a very successful career in cricket and also as an agent, where did you feel it all started going downhill?
That makes it sound like there was a specific starting point to some of my issues and that’s not how it works. Mental health issues and everything that come with it creeps up on you over time. To start with it doesn’t feel that bad and then all of a sudden you can feel in a very dark place. 2011 was when things started to get really bad for me.
Was the death of your Girlfriend one of the events that triggered this cycle?
It was a hugely traumatic event for me but it didn’t trigger anything. I was already showing signs of having possible mental health issues in the future but it was an event that certainly sped things up for me.
During these trying periods, what kept you going to help you come out of it?
I don’t know really. Maybe just an innate desire to try and survive. The human will is an extraordinary thing and during difficult times it can keep you pushing forward to stay above water.
For many people admitting that they are going through depression is very hard, how would you advise them to get help?
To start with try and tell someone. A friend or family member. If that is too difficult, then go and see your doctor. There is lots of help available for people with mental health issues, you just need to reach out for them. More importantly, I would ask people to look out for each other. Sometimes it is hard to speak up about your feelings but it becomes much easier when someone asks how you are.
How would you define success?
Being the best father, husband, son, brother, friend and ex-husband that I can possibly be.
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