MELBOURNE, Nov 1 (Reuters) - Former captain Steve Waugh, an alumni of the “tough school” of Australian cricket, has praised all-rounder Glenn Maxwell for having the courage to seek treatment for a mental health issue.
Maxwell was ruled out of the Australian team indefinitely on Thursday after confiding in coach Justin Langer about his health issues ahead of a T20 match against Sri Lanka in Adelaide.
“I think it’s a courageous decision and one that should be applauded,” Waugh told reporters on Friday of Maxwell’s break from the team.
“It’s a high-pressure situation, professional sport, and people have got outside pressures and things happening in life just like normal people. Sometimes it becomes a bit too much.”
Waugh, who led a series of uncompromising teams in the late 1990s and early 2000s, is renowned for unabashedly championing “mental disintegration”, Australia’s tactic of putting opposition players off their games through targeted sledging.
He freely admitted that speaking about a mental health issue was taboo during his playing days.
“It was a tough school back then, and I look at a lot of players I played with and I think back now, and maybe they had mental issues,” said the 54-year-old.
“But at the time, it was almost a sign of weakness to put your hand up.
“I’m glad that that’s changed because so many people suffered in silence.”
Waugh felt social media was fuelling mental health issues by making people feel they needed to compete with the curated lives of their peers online.
“Everyone’s on Facebook and Instagram and nobody ever posts anything negative (about themselves), so when you see someone else’s post you think, ‘Maybe my life is not as good as it should be’, and you’re always trying to catch up and do things better,” said Waugh.
“The fact is, everyone has their struggles and nobody has the perfect life, so we need to be a bit more realistic about things.”
Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford