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HomeNewsNat Sciver-Brunt: England all-rounder on mental health break and the Ashes

Nat Sciver-Brunt: England all-rounder on mental health break and the Ashes

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Nat Sciver-Brunt
Sciver-Brunt has played 210 times for England across all formats

Twice, unprompted, Nat Sciver-Brunt brings up her mental health.

“I’m in a good place with my cricket and as a person,” she says.

The all-rounder has been England’s rock for 10 years, always the calmest in any crisis.

On and off the field she rarely gives anything away – described by her more expressive wife Katherine as the yin to her yang.

Last September, after stepping up to lead England at the Commonwealth Games when captain Heather Knight was injured, she decided to take a break for her mental health.

“It was something I felt I needed because of the six months to year before,” Sciver-Brunt says.

“Everything, not built up, but it did get on top of me a little bit.”

The first public sign she was struggling came when an overwhelmed and uncertain Sciver-Brunt gave an interview after almost securing an incredible victory for Trent Rockets against Southern Brave in last September’s Hundred eliminator.

Eight months on, she openly speaks about her decision, a room of five journalists silently held by every word.

“I haven’t watched the interview and I don’t really want to,” says Sciver-Brunt.

“I know what I said and I guess it was just how I was feeling at the time. It was probably the first interview in the month I had been able to get through without crying.”

Live on Sky Sports, Sciver-Brunt spoke about the difficulties of life on the treadmill of professional sport.

“Sometimes when you are at home for two, three days, thinking about putting the washing on, unpacking your bag and repacking not long after, being able to have some things to help me switch off and not think about what is coming up and stay in the moment a bit more… I find that quite hard,” she said.

Six days later, Sciver-Brunt announced her break, ruling her out of a series against India.

The Hundred came at the end of an eight-month period where England surprisingly missed out on a Commonwealth medal, lost a 50-over World Cup final in New Zealand and were beaten by Australia in the Ashes.

“I spoke to a clinical psychologist a couple of times and tried to reflect on especially the Commonwealth Games and how that went and how that affected me, which was probably the main trigger for needing to go home,” says Sciver-Brunt.

“I did things that had been on the to-do list for a year. Just be happy at home, do normal things, mow the lawn, take the dog for a walk.”

Sciver-Brunt, who will play for Trent Rockets in The Hundred again later this summer, has been an England regular since 2013.

For a generation, fans, commentators and pundits, and quite possibly players too, have thought: “Nat’s still there. England will be OK.”

That comes with its own pressures.

“I have probably put that expectation on myself for a lot longer than you have been saying it,” she says.

“That has been the role I want to play. I want to be in the difficult moments and affect the game every time I am touching the ball or whatever it is.

“It is probably a little bit my own fault as well. It seemed to work most times but not all.”

Sciver-Brunt returned in December and by February was dominating at another World Cup, albeit unable to stop another disappointing semi-final exit by England.

Having averaged 72 with the bat in South Africa, she then led Mumbai Indians to the title in the Women’s Premier League, winning the player-of-the-match award in the final.

Sciver-Brunt may have been signed for £320,000 – the second-highest fee for an overseas player at the WPL – but she is as measured off the field as on it.

“I’ve just bought a new phone and a watch, not much,” she says about her new earnings.

“I am a bit tight really. I did get an Apple watch as well but that was from [Mumbai Indians owner] Mrs Ambani.”

The next challenge for Sciver-Brunt is little over a month away and is possibly the hardest in any sport.

The Ashes begins on 22 June against Meg Lanning’s Australia, who have won the past four World Cups and are unbeaten in four Ashes series.

She will also be competing without wife Katherine, who has retired from internationals.

Earlier this month, 20-year-old bowler Issy Wong boldly claimed this summer is a “great time” to play Australia.

Whether it is Sciver-Brunt’s wise head, or just the difference in two opposing personalities, the all-rounder struck a far more measured tone in discussing England’s chances.

“Since the [2022] Ashes in my mind I have felt closer [to Australia] than I have before in terms of skill,” she says.

“It is just whether we can do it in the pressure moments.

“In tournaments it goes the same. We do really well, there’s a pressure game [ending in defeat] and from that you learn but you don’t get to learn because the tournament has finished.”

Whether England can halt Australia remains to be seen.

With Sciver-Brunt in a good place on and off the field, they will at least have a chance.

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