Derbyshire captain Luke Sutton has announced his intention to retire from competitive cricket with immediate effect. He cited depression as one of the main reasons for his decision.
The news came as a shock to his employers, who had hoped to have the experienced Sutton on board to act as a mentor and leader to their promising crop of young players.
Derbyshire chairman Chris Grant, who announced a new cricketing strategy for the club during 2011 only to see parts of it encounter difficulties, said of the news: “Luke’s retirement was unexpected but we respect his decision and thank him for his efforts during his two spells with Derbyshire.
“With the changes that were made at the club during the 2011 season, we appreciate it was a testing year for Luke, and on a personal level I would like to thank him for his loyal support. I speak for everybody connected with the club in saying that I wish Luke all the very best in his continued recovery.”
Sutton now runs the player management agency Activate Sport – which manages England seamer Jimmy Anderson. This, coupled with his commute from his home in Manchester, and the recent ill health of his young daughter appears to have been too much for the widely respected former Somerset and Lancashire wicket-keeper; a situation which once more raises the issue of the disturbing relationship that elite sport has with mental illness.
The 35 year-old said, “I have been aware for some time that I have problems with certain aspects of my mental health. I have always pushed myself to the limit but I reached a point where it was having an adverse affect on my relationships with my family and colleagues, and my health in general.
“Although as a professional sportsman it is extremely embarrassing to admit to a weakness, I’m proud to have found the strength of character to seek treatment, enabling me now to feel extremely positive about my future.
“I’ve had a brilliant time over my 14 years in the game, and a number of other important reasons have led me to decide to retire. In addition to concerns about my own health, my two-year-old daughter has recently been diagnosed with diabetes and the growing success and, therefore, pressure of my business has forced me to take a long look at my future. I've recently undergone hand surgery which has also played its part in this decision. Upon reflection, and although a difficult decision, it is the right time to move on.”
Derbyshire now have to make a decision on a new club captain for 2012, with Wayne Madsen the stand-out favourite. Other options include Wes Durston or possibly Tim Groenewald, with an announcement expected tomorrow.
Meanwhile, the wicket-keeping position is far less certain, with inexperienced youngsters Tom Poynton and Chris Durham the only glovemen on the staff at present. This could leave an opening for former Leicestershire wicket-keeper Tom New to make his cricketing comeback, or alternatively the club may decide that it is time to give Academy graduate Poynton a long run in the side.
© Cricket World 2011