Players must focus on life beyond game
A THROWAWAY line from Tim Paine about the pressures of a “cricket only’’ life has spotlighted why the game must continue its push to broaden the minds of Australia’s best young players.
Test captain Paine has emerged as an unruffled Joe Cool who handles the good and bad days with the same implacable demeanour. But he admits there were times when a narrow cricket-focused life put extreme pressure on him and shackled his natural game.
“I think going back to when I was 16 or 17 I wish I knew what I knew now,’’ Paine said recently. “I would have been a lot better at school, because I think having something else in my life would have alleviated some of the pressure I put on myself to perform at cricket and would have allowed me to go out and play a little bit more fearlessly, which I would have loved to be able to do but ... I’ve always had all my eggs in one basket.’’
It’s this very issue Cricket Australia is trying to tackle in a fresh push to get players to spend eight hours a week either preparing for life after cricket or putting back into the community. It’s not an Earthshattering move but it is a step in the right direction as the game tackles its confronting mental health crisis.
When he joined a list of 46 Australian Test captains, Paine’s name sat beside men whose professions included shopkeeper, pharmacist, crime reporter, bookmaker, plumber, investment consultant, grazier, postman, dentist, clerk, whisky agent, bank officer, solicitor and sales promotion officer.
The days of the sportsman who can successfully juggle work and play are gone and they are not coming back.
But as a famous writer once said: “If all you know is cricket, what do you really know?’’