Former India pacer Praveen Kumar has spoken out about how he has been diagnosed with depression and revealed that, at his lowest point a few months ago, he thought of ending his life. Speaking to The Indian Express, Kumar narrated how he took out a muffler and a revolver and drove out on the highway to Haridwar. He said, “I told myself, ‘Kya hai yeh sab? Bas khatam karte hain (What’s all this? Let me just end it)’".
The 33-year-old cricketer revealed that he's now in therapy and on medication. Kumar's confession sparks an important conversation on mental health in competitive sports, especially cricket. Earlier, cricketers like Virat Kohli and Australia's Glenn Maxwell have spoken out on the importance of addressing mental health for cricketers.
“Suddenly, It Was All Gone”
Called "Swing King" by his peers and the media for his deadly bowling, Kumar contracted dengue in 2011 which meant he missed India's World Cup victory, and subsequently was unsold at the 2014 IPL auction. Remembering how his cricketing career came to a halt, Praveen Kumar said, "I had been bowling so well. In England, everybody praised me. I was dreaming about a Test career. Suddenly, gaya sab kuchh (it was all gone).”
Since then, Kumar has been struggling for work. He was appointed bowling coach for the U-23 Uttar Pradesh team last year, but the stint was short-lived. Fifteen kilograms lighter and paler, the Meerut cricketer told The Indian Express that he is ready to take on work, saying that "All I want is to get back to cricket. That’s the only thing I know and love."
Support Pours in On Twitter
On Twitter, former cricketer Pragyan Ojha shared the article and implored Kumar to “take care.”
Buddy take care of yourself! Need to move on. You have taken a matured decision by letting it out. Always remember family is our biggest strength and also the biggest weakness. Godspeed brother @praveenkumar https://t.co/sfLimevIto— Pragyan Ojha (@pragyanojha) January 19, 2020
#Cricket fraternity should help Praveen Kumar and give him a platform to rehabilitate through Cricket.— Shaji Prabhakaran (@Shaji4Football) January 19, 2020
He could swing balls with ease but his life got swinged to such a level which is a sad situation.
For him Cricket can be the biggest healer than anything else. https://t.co/McIFbkIIWn
Kumar’s ordeal also led many to comment on how there needs to be an urgent conversation about mental health in the “unforgiving world of Indian cricket.”
Such a moving, necessary profile of PK. Spotlights the oft-ignored ("oh just move on") dimension of mental health in the unforgiving world of Indian cricket: https://t.co/4BZUdZQXnb— Rahul Desai (@ReelReptile) January 19, 2020
I told myself, what’s all this? Let me just end my life— Aman Sharma (@AmanKayamHai_ET) January 19, 2020
One of India’s best swing bowlers @praveenkumar speaks on struggle of sportspersons with depression
He wants to coach UP Ranji team for free, maybe @myogiadityanath can help him https://t.co/3M2nJwB3JP
My heart goes out to Praveen Kumar. And this again goes to show that cricket isn't - and should never be - everything for a player. https://t.co/gLq7mff7Nt— Shiamak Unwalla (@ShiamakUnwalla) January 19, 2020
Praveen Kumar also thanked the Indian Express journalist for "showing raw and real pk (sic)”
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