Thursday, 30 June 2016

Book Review: The Hard Yards: Highs and Lows of a Life in Cricket by Mike Yardy

Over the years I have written this blog, as regulars will know, I have always chosen my words carefully when talking about players and their form.

There are places on the internet where anything goes, from personal comments to harsh criticism that never seems to take account of one simple thing. That cricketers, like all of us, have things going on in their lives that sometimes make performing at their best a very difficult thing.

We have had our share at Derbyshire in recent years and the mental side of the game is huge. Even if you have the requisite technique or impressive statistics, there is always the niggle that you might not be good enough , might not be able to maintain standard and perhaps cannot deal with critics and their words.

This book is essential reading for anyone who has gone online and been critical of a sportsman or woman. It is also an outstanding read, as it reinforces the fact that even those at, or near the top of the tree have their insecurities. Some of them, big ones.

Like Mike Yardy. A member of a T20 World Cup-winning side and captain of a Sussex side that won two one-day trophies in 2009, yet tormented by self-doubt. Unsure of his talent, whether people believed in him and whether he could sustain his form, he sought help in 2011, when he should have been preparing for a World Cup quarter-final.

This is a fine and brave book, because Yardy was a cricketer that any side would love to have as a member. If this kind of thing can happen to him, how many others might this crippling depression affect? Lots actually, more than you might think and in an age when every ball, shot, drop or decision is scrutinised and commented on by all and sundry, not everyone can handle the pressure and the attention.

Now retired and studying for a degree in sports psychology, a career in which he hopes to help others deal with the highs and lows of professional sport, Mike Yardy can reflect securely on two things.

One, that he WAS a very good cricketer - you don't produce those statistics, nor make it to the level that he did, without being so.

Two that, with his collorator Bruce Talbot, he has produced one of the most compelling cricket books of recent times.

Do yourself a massive favour and buy it. It will open your eyes...

The Hard Yards: Highs and Lows in A Life of Cricket is written by Mike Yardy and published by Pitch Publishing. It is currently available at £18.99 as a hardback

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