An overwhelming majority of county Directors of Cricket and coaches believe that the Professional Cricketers’ Association’s Personal Welfare and Development Programme is having a positive impact on players on and off the pitch.
A total of 61 coaches, 21 one of them first team coaches, and 19 county Second XI coaches, responded to the survey which was conducted in 2015.
The survey confirms that that the work of the PCA’s six-strong team of Personal Development and Welfare Managers (PDMs) has a positive impact on performance, confidence, resilience and contribution to team performances as well as preparing for players for life after cricket.
Two further PDMs are employed by the England and Wales Cricket Board and work with England teams.
The education and welfare elements of the PCA’s PDW programme are perceived as being valuable or highly valuable by more than 95 per cent of county Directors of Cricket and coaches.
Around 75 per cent believe that the programme has a positive effect on performance, confidence, resilience and contribution.
Engagement in the PDW Programme by current players has also increased significantly from just 15 per cent in 2004 to 82 per cent last year.
As well as helping players transition from cricket the PCA’s Personal Development and Welfare Managers also fulfil an important role in looking after the health and well being of current and former players by signposting them to the PCA’s extensive health and wellbeing programme.
Virtually all players admitted to struggling when their playing career ends with 17 per cent admitting to high levels of anxiety and stress, 16 per cent to a loss of self-esteem and confidence and 16 per cent to depression and feelings of despair in the first year after leaving the sport.
Thirty-two per cent of past players said that they did not feel in control of their lives two years after they finished playing.
“It’s clear from the work over the last 15 years that Personal Development and Welfare is an area of massive importance. Great progress has been made from the early days when we had just one person operating across the whole ‘current’ cricket population working for half a week,” said Jason Ratcliffe, PCA Assistant Chief Executive.
“Six PDM’s directly reporting to PCA and two reporting to ECB is already a considerable resource and underscores the importance of this work by the respective bodies.
“Academic, professional surveying of players and coaches and anecdotal research across the cricketing population only enforces the importance of the work.
“Historical research from past players details the difficulties players have when finishing their careers over the first two years, but it goes further than that, in detailing that their time in the game and how their career goes can have a lasting impact on their future happiness.
“Whilst we can’t directly influence a player’s performance on a day to day basis, which is largely down to inherent ability and the environments they encounter in the clubs, we can have a great impact mentally across this journey, which should ensure a player grows in confidence.
“Better people equals better cricketers and that can only be a good thing for English cricket performance and the health and wellbeing of the cricketers during and after their career.
“Personal development shouldn’t interfere with the core role as a professional cricketer, however, current and past players alike tell us that ‘working’ at something else whilst playing cricket has a positive effect on their cricket.
“Engagement in the PDW programme is encouragingly high and the weight of research about it is compelling, but we must do more.
"More time in the county environment and more resource made available for retiring players is imperative to ensure our overall cricketers become mentally stronger and more resilient, and as importantly, that our overall duty of care extends long and deep into the following transitional stages of a players life, to do our very best to ensure that no player feels that life is not worth living without the confines of the dressing room environment.
“To this end, we must create more resources to continue the strong foundations which have been formed in the last 15 years and with such a ringing endorsement from current directors of cricket and coaches, there must be greater cohesive working relationships between themselves, PDMs and players to ensure each player gets appropriate and proportionate time, whilst also recognising and acknowledging that personal development is indeed unique and personal to each individual.”
The survey recommends increasing the number of Personal Development and Welfare Managers from six to nine
“The game must continue building on this important work. We have a duty to create more resilient and confident people, something which should also ensure better performing cricketers,” said Ratcliffe.
“In turn this should lead to a better product to sell to broadcasters and spectators, ultimately creating more income for the game.
“A continuation of our work will help provide cricketers with smoother transitions out of the game and into the next phase of their lives and mitigate potential issues down the line.”