“I certainly think that selectors and coaches and support staff are more mindful than ever about making sure we’re looking after our players and we’re caring for them, and that they’re well prepared for whatever opportunity comes up,” Oliver told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.
“If you’re to put a selection lens on that, it’s important that we’re taking into consideration the whole person and how they’re travelling at a given point in time and ‘are they ready and prepared for the challenge and opportunity that comes up at a national level?’”
Giving greater consideration to mental health at selection time shapes as a complex and delicate process. The last thing CA would want is for players to keep problems to themselves for fear of not being chosen.
CA has worked with youth mental health organisation Orygen in an effort to better understand the issue. Oliver, a former Victoria and Tasmania all-rounder, has made the subject a priority since joining the governing body.
“I think it’s just part of an overall approach from the game that we’re more mindful and aware of what people are experiencing and they’re all factors that need to be considered when it comes to selection,” Oliver said.
Credit to both Maxy and Maddo that they’ve had the strength to step up and talk about it.
“We need to be aware of how players are travelling across a whole range of dimensions and mental health and their wellbeing is one of those elements. In terms of working with the selectors on that, that’s an ongoing process, and I’ve been really impressed with their willingness to look at selection from a very holistic perspective.”
Oliver’s brief includes ensuring players are not over-burdened by their schedules, with a busy and diverse international and domestic calendar posing challenges.
Former Test batsman Peter Handscomb said on Monday the demands of the schedule “can be tough”.
“With cricket being a 12-month-a-year game now, you can see a bit of burnout starting to come in to players,” the Victoria captain told RSN.
“It is hard to stay up for such long periods of time. The stress comes in. Credit to both Maxy and Maddo that they’ve had the strength to step up and talk about it, and say they weren’t right, and go and get the help that’s required. That just shows really strong characters.
“I think now we’re actually seeing, because it has been talked about more, players step up and recognise that it’s in the game and that it’s actually OK to talk about it.’’
Chris Barrett is Sports Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald.