Hampshire's Wood ready to give back on Vitality Blast Finals Day

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Wood was part of the Hampshire team who claimed the T20 Cup back in 2012, all though his memories are blurred as his addiction take over.
Wood was part of the Hampshire team who claimed the T20 Cup back in 2012, all though his memories are blurred as his addiction take over

Vitality Blast Finals Day marks the chance for domestic cricketers to take the glory, but for Hampshire’s Chris Wood, this weekend is also a chance to give back, writes Sportsbeat's Milly McEvoy.

An 11-year addiction left the Hampshire cricketer in the hole to the tune of £200,000. He ended one day £5,000 down but his biggest losses can never be recouped.

That came in relationships ruined, weeks spent bed-ridden and sporting memories that totally passed him by.

Wood went public with his gambling addiction in 2020 having received support from the Professional Cricketers’ Trust, the charity that offers support to cricketers and their families whenever they need it.

The Professional Cricketers’ Trust are the official charity partner of Finals Day, with fundraising efforts going on throughout the day and Wood is delighted a spotlight will be shone on the Trust.

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, with Yorkshire Vikings spinner Dom Bess joining Hampshire Hawks seamer Wood who are set to feature on Saturday having both received varying support.

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.

With the Trust taking centre stage for Finals Day, awareness of the small charity will be raised with the aim to create funds to continue its work in being a vital support mechanism for cricket’s biggest assets, its players.

“It means a lot for cricket, but also, for me personally,” Wood said. “Obviously, the experience I have had, and they were there for me for a time of need.

“If they were not there to be able to give me the services that they have, with Sporting Chance, I potentially would not be paying in Final Days at all.

“I would not know where my journey would be in life in general right now, so I have got a huge amount of gratitude for the Trust, as I know that a lot of fellow professional players do as well.

“The help they were able to provide was for me to go down to Liphook where Sporting Chance’s base is and to be able to have essentially 15 to 18 one-to-one therapy sessions to help me start my journey into recovery from a gambling addiction.”

It started with football and horse racing, then progressed to volleyball and ice hockey in the middle of the night and the amounts kept getting bigger.

Wood’s side won three trophies in as many seasons from 2010 to 2012 but their star death bowler was wrecked by exhausted debt options, credit cards and frazzled relationships.

He went down with a knee injury in 2016, leaving him bed-ridden for six weeks, suffering from anxiety, depression, and insomnia in one of the toughest periods of his life.

He added: “That was a big part of why I wanted to come out, I really want to highlight the work of the Professional Cricketers’ Trust to show people that there is hope coming through any addiction or any mental health problems at all with itself.”

One-club man Wood burst onto the scene in 2010 as Hampshire won their first T20 trophy with a second following in 2012.

Wood admits memories of his high moments in cricket have blurred as his gambling addiction took over but is looking forward to having a clear view of a potentially triumphant Finals Day on Saturday.

Wood is now part of the world’s first expert panel to investigate and act on the risk of gambling harm in professional stars.

It has been brought together by leading gambling harm minimisation consultancy EPIC Risk Management, in response to the risk being recorded as four times higher than among those who aren’t involved in elite sports.

“It would mean a huge amount. I think the way I look at it now is I do not know how long my career's going to go for now.

“I have had a few injuries over the last few years, I am fully fit at the minute, but I am certainly on the back end of my career, and you often say when Finals Days come around and trophies that I have won the that was the best one or 2012 was the best one.

“But actually, everything I have been through personally... to lift the trophy for the club that I have played for my whole life since I was nine years old.

“And you don't quite know how many you have left or if you're going to win any more in your career, but this one would be incredibly special for me personally if we won on Saturday.”

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

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