India captain Virat Kohli has revealed that he battled depression during a harrowing tour of England in 2014 where he felt like the ‘loneliest guy in the world’ after a string of failures with the bat. In a conversation with former England player Mark Nicholas on his ‘Not Just Cricket’ podcast, Kohli conceded that went through a tough phase during the particularly difficult tour.
“Yes, I did,” was his response, when asked whether he had suffered from depression at the time.
“…It’s not a great feeling to wake up knowing that you won’t be able to score runs and I think all batsmen have felt that at some stage that you are not in control of anything at all,” he recalled.
Kohli had a disastrous tour of England in 2014, registering scores of 1, 8, 25, 0, 39, 28, 0,7, 6 and 20 in five Tests, averaging 13.50 in his 10 innings. He roared back to form in the tour of Australia after that, accumulating 692 runs in the Test series.
“You just don’t understand how to get over it. That was a phase when I literally couldn’t do anything to overturn things…I felt like I was the loneliest guy in the world,” he said of the England tour.
Kohli remembered feeling alone despite the fact that there were supportive people in his life. He said professional help was what he needed.
“Personally, for me that was a revelation that you could feel that lonely even though you a part of a big group. I won’t say I didn’t have people who I could speak to but not having a professional to speak to who could understand what I am going through completely, I think is a huge factor.
“I think I would like to see it change.”
The India captain, considered one of the best batsmen in modern cricket, believes mental health issues cannot be overlooked as they can destroy a person’s career.
“Someone whom you can go to at any stage, have a conversation around and say ‘Listen this is what I am feeling, I am finding it hard to even go to sleep, I feel like I don’t want to wake up in the morning. I have no confidence in myself, what do I do?’
“Lot of people suffer with that feeling for longer periods of time, it carries on for months, it carries on for a whole cricket season, people are not able to get out of it,” Kohli said.
“I strongly feel the need for professional help there to be very honest,” he added.
Kohli is currently in Ahmedabad for ongoing home Test series against England. The two teams have won a game each and will compete in the third Test from February 24.