Steve Harmison has revealed in his upcoming autobiography details of his battle with depression, which apparently got so bad at the peak of his career that he contemplated killing himself.
The 38-year-old, who played 63 Tests in which he took 226 wickets, has written in Speed Demons, which is being serialised in the Daily Mirror, that he had gone to see a psychologist to deal with his demons in 2004. This was at a time when he was one of the world’s top pace bowlers.
Harmison, one of a series of premier England cricketers – Marcus Trescothick and Andrew Flintoff being some of the others – to have spoken about suffering from depression, said he suffered on long tours abroad but didn’t have it much better even in home series.
“Fast forward to the great summer of 2004, when I was number one in the rankings for the Test bowlers. It was the same story – only worse. I was in no position to celebrate. I was in no state to do anything,” he wrote. “England won all seven Tests but as that summer went on I could feel the brightness growing darker.
“The horrible truth was those same feelings, which had consumed me on trips abroad, were overpowering me again – and this time it had nothing to do with being away from home. The demons had not bothered to travel. They had come to get me at home, in the middle of a very successful English summer.
“I spoke to the England team doctor Peter Gregory and saw a psychologist. I was asked: ‘Have you ever considered harming yourself?’ That frightened the hell out of me. The honest answer was ‘Maybe’. I can’t say there haven’t been dark times where I thought it would be easier if I wasn’t here.
“It was clear I was clinically depressed and medication would be the way forward. I’ve been on it ever since.”
However, Harmison, who took 17 wickets in the extraordinary home Ashes series win in 2005, was less sympathetic towards Jonathan Trott, judging the language the England batsman used to describe his reason for returning early form the 2013-14 tour of Australia as “not ringing true”.
Trott returned home from that tour because of a stress-related illness, and Harmison wrote, “When it comes to Jonathan Trott’s illness, it’s not that I question it, but I’d like to know deep down what the problem is. The statements he’s made, the things he’s said, the language he’s used, makes me wonder if he just pulled the ladder up because the game got too hard.
“When he came back early from Australia after being bombarded by Mitchell Johnson and used the word ‘nutcase’ while talking about what happened, I found that puzzling. Someone who has mental health problems doesn’t use that terminology.
“When I saw Trott interviewed after coming home, I thought, ‘Wow, he’s not poorly, he’s weak’. He was describing someone who was mentally not very strong. I hope it was a mistranslation, but I have a nagging doubt Trott left the tour because he thought it was tough rather than because he was ill.”