PROFESSIONAL CRICKETERS' TRUST PRESS RELEASE
Former fast bowler turns life around after reaching lowest ebb.
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Simon Cusden, the former Kent and Derbyshire fast bowler, has revealed how the Professional Cricketers’ Trust came to his rescue after he attempted to commit suicide.
Cusden, 32, struggled to come to terms with life after cricket following Derbyshire’s decision to release him at the end of the 2007 season and became addicted to alcohol.
At his lowest point, Cusden tried to drown himself by tying a rock to his leg while he was living in Sydney just sixteen months ago, but he survived the suicide attempt and then contacted the PCA seeking help.
Within 20 minutes the Trust had agreed to fund a period of rehabilitation for Cusden who spent three months in the Broadway Lodge addiction rehabilitation centre and was admitted within five hours of returning to England.
Cusden has now told his harrowing story in a new film which highlights the wide range of support the Trust offers to past and present cricketers and their immediate family members, whilst encouraging them to seek help when they need it most.
“I was drinking two to three bottles of whisky a day for days on end. And then suicidal thoughts came into my head,” Cusden said.
“I was camping once and I thought I would tie a rock to my foot and jump in the river, where the tent was. I thought that as long as the rock was heavy enough then it will do the job.
“Quite clinically, I jumped in. But after maybe a minute or so, my whole body started fighting it. It wasn’t my mind – my mind wanted to stay there until it was over. But something in me wanted to not die. So I swam to the surface, even though this rock was almost too heavy to lift. I climbed out and remember being really annoyed because I couldn’t even kill myself.
“I sat on the grass and thought: ‘I really do only know how to drink.’
“I knew the PCA was fantastic and that the Professional Cricketers’ Trust was there. I just wasn’t in a position to ask for help. Once I was in that position, I knew that I would be OK but if it wasn’t for the PCA then I would be dead.”
The new Trust film has been released to support the PCA Legacy Year Appeal which aims to mark the 50th anniversary of the PCA by raising an additional £250,000 for the Trust.
The players’ charity, which was established in 2000, provides a network of support including a 24-hour confidential helpline to help current and former cricketers and their immediate family deal with problems such as drink, drugs or gambling dependency, family issues, bereavement and depression.
With the help of the Trust, Cusden is now rebuilding his life in Derby where he has set up his own coaching business.
“I remember the PCA having a chat with me [when playing] and thinking at the time that it was the most ridiculous conversation. Someone said that I needed to think about life after cricket, and I thought: ‘What does that even mean? What is life after cricket?’ What is life outside cricket?
“It’s hard to know, looking back, whether it was being in denial about letting go of the cricket dream. In 2004 I played well, I was disciplined, focused and present, 2005 was the comedown year. I thought I was going to continue, it became evident I wasn’t.
“And in 2006 was where it spiralled. I was turning up to training in the mornings drunk. I created this persona that everything was amazing, I’m earning money, I have a beautiful wife.
“The first time I shared any of this was six years after my career finished and by that time, the spiral had got out of control. I didn’t feel I had much hope. I had got sober but now I was back worse than I was before.”
To help the Professional Cricketers’ Trust to continue providing wide-ranging support you can visit the Trust’s JustGiving page or donate £10 by texting “CRICKET” to 70085.