PROFESSIONAL CRICKETERS' TRUST PRESS RELEASE
“Hearing that it was Parkinson’s was difficult because there’s no cure.”
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Former England, Hampshire and Middlesex spinner Shaun Udal has bravely told his story to spread awareness of the Professional Cricketers’ Trust following a run of life-changing events.
The 54-year-old has opened up on receiving help from the players’ charity, sharing his thoughts and feelings in relation to his physical and mental health as well as coming to terms with tragic bereavements of loved ones.
Udal’s story comes as the Professional Cricketers’ Trust takes centre stage at the Vitality Blast Finals Day with the chosen charity provided a platform to help raise vital funds so the Trust can continue providing life-changing and often life-saving provision to current and former professional cricketers across England and Wales.
Playing in the first ever professional game of T20 cricket in 2003, Udal won the tournament five years later. Following a career that spanned 21 years, 771 appearances, 1,330 wickets and 11,279 runs, the off-spinner began to notice pain in his neck and down his right arm. An MRI revealed a dislodged vertebrae and an operation funded by the Professional Cricketers’ Trust saw the vertebrae replaced with an artificial one.
However, that wasn’t the end of the pain for Udal.
“I was experiencing dizziness, my hands were shaking, I couldn’t do up my shoe laces, I was shuffling when walking and then one morning at work I fell down 16 metal stairs and was knocked unconscious. Within two weeks I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in February 2019, a week before my 50th birthday.
“Hearing that it was Parkinson’s was very tough because there’s no cure, that’s the hardest thing to deal with. I’m getting treatment at the moment with the help of the Professional Cricketers’ Trust and I’m seeing psychologists and trying to make the most of every day.”
Things went from bad to worse for Udal and his family with the tragic passing of close family members and one of his best friends, all in under 14 months.
“If I didn't have the support from the Trust, it's a big thing to say, but I don't think I'd be here.”
“My mother passed away, I broke down more than once and I still get a lump in my throat now. The hardest bit was not being able to see my mum at the end because of Covid, it was very sad. Then my brother passed away very unexpectedly and then my great friend Shane Warne as well.
“The period of my diagnoses was something that I could handle and manage but what happened to my mum, my brother and my great mate Warney, I had no control over and didn’t see any of it coming. It’s been incredibly difficult all three off them passing so quickly but I can’t emphasise enough how important the support network has been around me.
“There were some really dark days, some horrible thoughts went through my head, that obviously I’m glad that I never acted upon such as who would come to my funeral, but I’m not ashamed to say that – it was bloody tough. The Trust has been astonishing with their support.”
During those dark times, the hugely popular character says that support from the cricket community had a massive positive impact on his mental wellbeing.
“The Trust has been incredible, my close friends at Hampshire have been amazing, Middlesex, the England boys I used to play with still make contact now. The guys at Hampshire like James Vince, Liam Dawson, Chris Wood have been on the phone to me and believe me those little things make a huge difference.
“You think you’re forgotten and that no one cares about you and then you get little messages like that, they make such a difference to your life especially when everyone has their own problems to deal with, the support network from the cricket world has been astonishing.”
The players’ charity was created to support the health and wellbeing of PCA members and their immediate families for the whole of their lives when they need it most.
“It's so important to have people around you and with the Trust especially, I knew they were there for me and I knew where to turn.”
The assistance for current and former players in England and Wales is all encompassing, whether it be for physical or mental needs including provision of specialist equipment, funding operations or specialist wellbeing support.
“If I didn’t have the support from the Trust, it’s a big thing to say, but I don’t think I’d be here. I think those dark thoughts would have manifested themselves and it would have been too late to turn anything round. Having gone through what I went through, I dread to think what could have happened.
“It’s so important to have people around you and with the Trust especially, I knew they were there for me and I knew where to turn. The more awareness the Trust can get the better, the more people that know about it the better and the more people that know how good and responsive they are will make it easier for people to reach out when they need that support.”
The Professional Cricketers’ Trust provides vital support to past and present cricketers in England and Wales and their immediate families when in desperate need. The charity’s work is all encompassing, whether it be for unforeseen physical or mental needs.