Smith, Howell and Roderick offer update on what players’ charity means to them.

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Gloucestershire stars Tom Smith, Benny Howell and Gareth Roderick have given a poignant update on what the Professional Cricketers’ Trust means to them ahead of Vitality Blast Finals Day in support of the players’ charity this Saturday.

In the words of Smith, the Gloucestershire dressing room is “one big family”, with many individuals having experienced bereavement and other issues in recent times for which they have received life-changing support from the Trust.

The trio of current players, who all fall under that category, joined a Zoom call on Tuesday morning to give an update on their respective stories and to also look forward to a special day for the charity on Saturday.

Vitality Blast Finals Day will see both funds and awareness raised for the players’ charity as this year’s domestic season comes to a close. Fans watching at home will be able to text to donate to the Trust, and other fundraising activities include an online auction, raffle, as well as the sale of Trust-branded merchandise.

Read on to find out what your support on the day would mean to a group of current playing PCA members.

Tom Smith

Off-spinner Smith has received the support of the Trust both before and since his wife Laura’s tragic passing due to a rare chronic liver disease and bile-duct cancer.

This most unique of seasons has been a particular challenge for both Tom and his daughters Rosie and Clara, as he explains.

“Being a single parent with two kids at home – it was a difficult experience as I’m sure it was for many parents. It put me into a very dark place but being out there and being able to play cricket has been a huge success, really. We’ve been very fortunate to get the amount of cricket that we have done.

“To be honest, in the early days of my career I thought the Trust was for retired players that needed a mobility scooter. After speaking to Mark Wallace, who was our Personal Development Manager at the time, he helped me to identify what I needed to keep on playing cricket.

“They’ve been like a family member, really, helping to support me throughout. Since Laura died, I wouldn’t have been able to play cricket without their support – both from a financial and from a mental perspective. It’s been quite a journey for me and it wouldn’t have been possible without the Professional Cricketers’ Trust, that’s for sure.

“I think it’s hugely important to make not only cricketers, but also the wider cricketing world aware of what the Trust is providing for the players. The three of us telling our story, as well as many others including Chris Wood over lockdown, it gives other people the confidence to share their stories.

“We all need to support the charity as players but it’s important that the cricket community gets around it too.”

Benny Howell

Since revealing his ongoing battle with ADHD via a self-written blog post, Howell has leant on the Trust for support with his condition, which affects around 1 in 30 adults worldwide.

“Before I started receiving support from the Trust, I was prescribed antidepressants, which I took for about a year before realising something wasn’t right. To be able to get that support from the Trust and figuring out what I had, which is ADHD, helped me to figure out how my mind works and figure out how to navigate through my own chaotic mind.

“They’ve given me options in terms of getting help and figuring out what’s going on in my head. It’s an ongoing process for me, but they’ve helped me a hell of a lot on that front. I know there are people who go through the same thing without the Trust on their side, so I’m very grateful to have them.

“When I wrote an article about my ADHD I had a surprising number of people write to me about going through similar things. They thanked me for putting it out there.

“A lot of people think you should be happy because you’re a sportsman, but everyone has their own challenges and needs their own help at times. It’s brilliant that the Trust and the PCA are enabling us as cricketers to share our story and broaden the awareness around the cricket community and the whole world.”

Gareth Roderick

Like Smith, Roderick suffered a heartbreaking bereavement when his father committed suicide in late 2017.

Roderick explains how he has been coming to terms with it ever since, with the Trust by his side to support him and his immediate family throughout.

“Everything seemed to be on an upward curve in my life before I got this terrible news, and then it all seemed to come crashing down. I felt like I had no control, especially since my family was on the other side of the world.

“I became insular and it took me a good two or three months to come out the other side of that. The next day I was seeing someone and talking through it. I don’t think I would have ever gotten that help if it wasn’t so readily available to me from the Professional Cricketers’ Trust.

“Through the Trust, my personality and how I do those things has completely changed. I’ve gone from being someone who never shares his feelings to being an open book and now I’m completely honest with my partner and my teammates.

“Tom and I often speak about how we’re feeling and I often joke about how drives to training are like 45 minutes of therapy for me. I think he’s getting a bit tired of hearing all of my thoughts!

“The Trust has been immense in starting that conversation. It makes it easier for guys who are going through similar journeys to open up about it.”

Visit New Balance’s website to view the full range of Vitality Blast Finals Day in aid of the Professional Cricketers’ Trust merchandise.

Visit our JustGiving page to donate to the Professional Cricketers’ Trust.

Text ‘TRUSTCRICKET’ followed by any amount between three and 20 to 70085 to donate between £3 – £20 to the Professional Cricketers’ Trust. For example, ‘TRUSTCRICKET10’ to donate £10.

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