Cape Town – Former Proteas spinner Paul Harris reveals that he suffered from depression following his retirement from international cricket.
Harris was mainly used as a defensive Test spinner for the Proteas from 2007 to 2011.
The left-arm spinner played 3 ODIs and 37 Tests for the Proteas, taking 103 Test wickets at an average of 37.87.
Harris officially announced his retirement from a 14-year career for the Titans in January 2013.
In a column for LiveCricOnline, Harris reveals that he struggled to adjust to life after cricket.
“For those who didn’t have this luxury, post retirement can be one of the most stressful times in one’s life,” he wrote.
“Finding one’s ‘place’ after cricket can be daunting and there is not much in terms of support. The various players associations have made decent strides in the last few years with a certain level of support, but not nearly enough. You often hear of retired cricketers going through deep depression and in severe cases even suicide or suicidal thoughts.
“I was one of those who went through a certain level of depression post retirement. I was by no means at a suicidal level but there was certainly a level of depression. I was in the fortunate position of having the support of family during this time.”
Harris, who commentated during the inaugural Mzansi Super League, admits that more needs to be done for retiring cricketers.
“There needs to be more done throughout a sportsmen’s career to prepare him for the inevitable retirement phase of life,” wrote Harris.
“The point is that if you are still playing professional sport take the time to upskill yourself.
“… Those that are retired understand that while it can be a depressing and lonely place it is an opportunity to remake yourself and with a positive, willing to learn mindset who knows what you can achieve.“
The SA Depression and Anxiety Group has a 24-hour toll-free counselling helpline. The number is 0800 222 333.