India 'A' snub contributed to the dark headspace I found myself in, reveals Sheldon Jackson

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India 'A' snub contributed to the dark headspace I found myself in, reveals Sheldon Jackson

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SportsCafe Desk

03/23/2020

Sheldon Jackson shared how being overlooked season after season flunked him into an unstable state of mind as he toiled through physical and mental hardships to keep going. Jackson revealed that he didn’t open up about his struggles, fearing shaming, and the thoughts eventually ate his mind.

Saurashtra batsman Sheldon Jackson is the torch bearer in Saurashtra’s rise through the ranks of domestic cricket, with the state side finally clinching the prestigious Ranji Trophy this season. But the rise hasn’t been easy for the wicket-keeper batsman, as he's fought voices inside him which tried pulling him down.

It was the result of being continuously ignored by national selectors even after amassing runs season after season. Jackson shared that he kept it all to himself fearing how people would perceive it and that resulted in the negative thoughts taking over his mind. The effect was such that even his teammates could sense it, but nothing they did was able to help Jackson.

"This was the time when a lot of players were speaking about mental-health issues and how it was impacting their cricket, but I wasn't comfortable speaking about it because I wasn't sure how it would've been perceived," Jackson told ESPNcricinfo. 

"My team-mates felt I was overthinking, I was becoming very intense. On the field, I was always bothered by these thoughts. It was becoming a mental burden."

"It was the hurt maybe - of being ignored season after season. It's as if some voice is telling you: 'mate, you aren't good enough. Nice try, but sorry'. That hurt."

Jackson fought through physical and mental hardships to score a whopping 854 runs in the 2018-19 season at an outstanding average of 47.44, only to fall out in the quarterfinal. Coupled with the India A snub, it had a devastating effect on the veteran. but he kept going and eventually, through his strong will, emerged on the right side, scoring 809 runs in the recently-concluded Ranji season where he helped Saurashtra lift their maiden Ranji title.

"All of it contributed to a dark mindspace I found myself in [at the start of the season]. It's hard to say if I would've retired, but I wasn't in the best mindspace. I had to battle inner demons. My mother wasn't well, I wasn't feeling well physically. Batting seemed a chore. I had this feeling that 'whatever I score isn't going to be noticed anyway.' Only my wife, mother and Chirag Jani (his Saurashtra team-mate) knew what I was going through.

"I played through an ankle injury after the quarter-finals of the 2018-19 season," Jackson says. "My toes used to swell up. I had to cut out my right shoe to play through pain, but that dream of winning the Ranji Trophy kept me going, even though deep down I knew I may have been pushing it.

"We didn't win and that added to my disappointment. And after our third game [of the 2019-20 season] against Uttar Pradesh, I was questioning myself. 'Is it still worth pushing it?' I've made runs season after season, only to be told 'sorry, we can't pick you for India A.' What next?"

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