Sport Cricket chief slams 'faceless' social media

06:40  15 november  2019
06:40  15 november  2019 Source:   wwos.nine.com.au

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Cricket Victoria's general manager says that social media is a main reason why players like Will Pucovski are feeling the pressure of professional sports greater than ever.

Pucovski, citing mental health concerns, made himself unavailable for the looming Test series against Pakistan.

a man wearing a hat: Will Pucovski© Getty Will Pucovski "What it is caused by is something that is up for debate," Cricket Victoria's Shaun Graf told Fox Sports.

"I would think it's a lot to do with social media.

"At times, we talk about gambling and mental health, but the social media platform of our life is something that is a major issue. Everyone is on it. There are a lot of players who seem to get into problems because there is a fair bit of abuse as well as some good stuff on those platforms.

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"We can recommend that players don't use it. But it's their own choice and we can't govern their lives and run it like a jail or something.

"I'm certainly of the opinion that sometimes – not just cricketers but all sportspeople and in media - struggle with it. At times players and people in general should stand back for a couple of weeks, relax a bit more and not take it to heart.

"Then they can go about their business without having to worry about what other faceless people tell you through the social media platforms."

Pucovski is one of three Victorians who have recently taken time away from the game to seek support and address mental health issues.

"I think it's a good thing. You go back and you look at what is happening now compared to your own career. It would have been handy to have someone to talk to," Graf said.

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"In those days you just got on with it and bottled it up. You didn't want to let anyone know you had a slight weakness.

"You would have been jumped all over if you said you needed help. Nowadays everyone is far more educated."

Australian captain Tim Paine said this week that he would reach out to Pucovski, telling the young batsman to put personal happiness before any thoughts of a Test cricket career.

Paine has grown close to the Victorian, who was in selection discussions for the first Test against Pakistan starting November 21 before opting out.

"First and foremost, we want Will to be a happy young man," Paine told reporters in Adelaide.

"Sometimes we forget that he is still a kid. He has got a lot of pressure put on him from outside sources and expectation.

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"Hopefully he's in a position in the next few years to fulfil that (cricket) potential that he has got.

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"The first priority for us and for Will is his mental well-being.

"Test cricket is just so hard. You have people on you all the time.

"He is a young bloke, as he gets older and more mature he'll work stuff out and get better. He just needs a lot of support."

Graf explained that Pucovski wasn't right "overall" and backed his decision to step away from cricket.

"He wasn't feeling well from an overall wellbeing point of view. As you know, he has some history in this area and he felt the best choice was to talk to the coach and the chairman of selectors and basically make himself unavailable for selection," he said.

"It's purely and simply because of the fact he didn't want to let the team down. He felt that having been through this before and knowing the symptoms, it was the right call.

"A lot of players have their own providers. Someone who goes through the mental health and wellbeing type thing. They have their own providers where they are comfortable going to see someone in confidence."

Paine too said he will provide whatever support is necessary to Pucovski, Glenn Maxwell and Nic Maddinson to help them through the difficult time.

"Hopefully their mental well-being is in a good place eventually and we can get those guys back out playing cricket," Paine said.

"But at the moment it's for us to support them and help them through difficult times."

If you or anyone you know is suffering from depression, call Lifeline on 13 11 14, Beyondblue on 1300 22 4636, or Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800.

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