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By Milly McEvoy
England spinner Dom Bess admitted to ‘hating’ cricket in 2018 after he collapsed walking to the Somerset team bus at Trent Bridge after being besieged with anxiety and depression.
Bess, who will feature for Yorkshire Vikings at the Vitality Blast Finals Day, which is supporting the Professional Cricketers’ Trust, had experienced a difficult season with Somerset, perennially losing out to fellow England spinner Jack Leach in the starting XI and Trent Bridge was the crescendo for his off-field troubles.
He was fortunate former England international Marcus Trescothick – now a Professional Cricketers’ Trust board member and himself a fellow anxiety sufferer – was in the Somerset ranks and was on hand to console Bess, offer his support and tell him to seek help.
Bess singled out his former County colleague, Trescothick, who helped identify the troubles and guided the spinner on how to get help to manage his battles from the Professional Cricketers’ Trust.
Trescothick has been a trailblazer in raising awareness of mental health in cricket, with the illness also affecting the likes of Jonathan Trott and Ben Stokes in recent years.
“Back in 2019, I was really struggling with my mental health, I certainly fell down into a real dark hole and that was a bad place to be,” said Bess, who has now moved from Somerset to Yorkshire.
“I really started to not only hate cricket but every sort of aspect away from it as well, I really struggled with everything.
“The Trust allowed me to open up and get help and having certain people at my old club Somerset was huge. Marcus Trescothick is a massive influence within the Trust, actually then I was able to get through to the PCA [Professional Cricketers’ Association] to get help.
“And that was funded through the Professional Cricketers’ Trust, that was all done as well out of my hands so I didn't have to worry about anything, everything was set up for that.
“For me, it was actually a stepping stone to get back to reality, getting back to really enjoying myself. I think I was at the time a 21-year-old and actually to just get back to reality and get me back in the world almost, that was really important to me.
“Then in terms of my actual cricketing career from there I went out to South Africa with England and did pretty well.
“I do tend to believe that at the end of that summer if I hadn’t reached out, I really don't know where I would be and that's the harsh reality of it. It is a massive lifeline.”
The Professional Cricketers’ Trust is set to celebrate the biggest day in the county calendar while highlighting the life-changing work of the charity at Edgbaston on Saturday 16 July.
The Vitality Blast Finals Day is to support the players’ charity for the third successive year and with a number of heartbreaking and heartwarming stories told throughout the build-up, fundraising activities are now confirmed.
The Trust was created to support the health and wellbeing of PCA members who have entertained cricket supporters over the years on the pitch for when they are in desperate need for help.
A number of past and present players have spoken so openly on support they have received, including Bess and Hampshire Hawks seamer Chris Wood, who are set to feature on Saturday.
More recently, former Somerset batter Arul Suppiah has revealed the torture of his eating disorder while former Yorkshire all-rounder Jamie Hood has spoken about living life to the full despite no mobility below his neck following a freak accident.
As Bess makes his Finals Day bow in a Roses clash against Lancashire in the first semi-final, the Professional Cricketers’ Trust will be front and centre of the day.
He added: “I think it's massive, I think the one thing is how much they do for players, or they are there for players if they ever need something.
“I guess you only realize that, firstly, if you're a little bit older, that you've been around it, and you understand what they do, but secondly, only until you need it.
“I think it's important, you realize who they are, what they do, how they can help.
“That's why it's so important, especially when it's Finals Day, probably domestically the biggest day of the year, in terms of the amount of people that go to watch.
“It's on Sky, it is renowned as the biggest day, a lot of people, a lot of traction with it, I think that's why it's such a valuable day for everyone.”
The Professional Cricketers’ Trust provides vital support to past and present cricketers in England and Wales and their immediate families when in desperate need. The charity’s work is all encompassing, whether it be for unforeseen physical or mental needs. Vitality Blast Finals Day is supporting the players’ charity - to find out more about the Professional Cricketers’ Trust, visit professionalcricketerstrust.org