Apr 28, 2020
Chris Wood, the Hampshire left-arm seamer, has revealed an 11-year fight against gambling addiction.
Wood, who has won four white-ball trophies with Hampshire since making his first-team debut in 2010, has not placed a bet since December 2018 after a long battle against addiction. He has regularly suffered from long-term injuries, which he believes contributed significantly to his issues.
He has sought help through the charity Sporting Chance, set up by former Arsenal and England footballer Tony Adams, after coming across them at a Professional Cricketers’ Association (PCA) talk ahead of the 2019 season. The PCA officially partnered with the charity in March after 85 members – including 40 current players – were diagnosed with issues related to their mental health last year.
In a Sporting Chance podcast, Wood began his story with his parents’ separation when he was eight years old, and recalled turning down a night out with some Hampshire team-mates after winning the Friends Provident T20 in 2010 in order to gamble away the prize money he had won from the tournament.
He also described walking off the pitch after fielding in a T20 in 2012 and “not having a clue what had just happened” because he was only focused on whether the bet he had placed before the innings had won. “It was quite scary actually, playing there in front of 8,000 or 10,000 people and I’m not even present,” he said.
“I was gambling every day and I started to get self-destruction thoughts, not necessarily suicidal thoughts as such but thoughts such as ‘do I have a place here?’ I didn’t necessarily go to the lengths of thinking of ways that I could do it but the thoughts started to arise.
“All day every day all I wanted to do was to sedate my feelings through gambling. I couldn’t do anything else.
“I have nothing to hide anymore, I am not scared of who I am. I like talking about my situation now because it gives me a sense of achievement of where I have come and it gives me a sense of power again that I can control my own thoughts and feelings.
“I am going to have to deal with this for every single day for the rest of my life and not get complacent.”
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Ian Thomas, the director of the Professional Cricketers’ Trust, said that he believed Wood was the first cricketer to admit to a gambling addiction during their career.
“He has come a very long way to now be in a position to be so honest which I am sure will resonate with people who have faced similar situations,” Thomas said. “Chris has put in a lot of hard work and persistence to reach this stage of confronting his addiction publicly and as he explains, it has been a long process with many setbacks before he has reached this point.
Wood signed a new white-ball-only contract with Hampshire ahead of the 2020 season, and was due to play for the Oval Invincibles in the inaugural season of the Hundred.
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