New Zealand skipper Sophie Devine spoke about the need to normalize conversations surrounding athletes' mental health. Devine, who stepped away from cricket in March and returned to lead the White Ferns against England this month, hailed her teammates for supporting her through a difficult time.
"It's hard to put into words how I was feeling at the start of the year," Devine said in a press conference after the second T20I against England. "Mentally I was nowhere and to try and play international cricket when mentally you're not at the top of your game, let alone 50 percent, it's always going to be bloody hard.
"Looking back on it, I was nowhere near my best with the bat and mentally I wasn't in a position to produce my best either. It's nice to have been able to step away and to put some things into place around that," she said.
Devine pointed to the example of tennis star Naomi Osaka, who has been advocating the importance of mental health among athletes. She also thanked her teammates, national board and staff for supporting her through the struggle.
"We saw it with Naomi Osaka, we've seen a lot of athletes back in New Zealand actually stepping up and being really honest around how they're feeling and the mental space that they find themselves in, and I think we need to normalise that conversation," she said.
"I've been lucky to say I've been so well supported by the board, the players' association, family and friends and I think it is really important that anyone that is in that space has the opportunity to talk up and feels that way too."
On Saturday, Devine became the third New Zealand women's player after Amy Satterthwaite and Suzie Bates to reach 100 T20Is. She celebrated the rare milestone with a match-winning 50 of 41 balls and claimed 2-28 against England in the second T20I.
"In my milestone game, there were some beautiful words spoken by Amy and Suzie, who I've played a lot of cricket with. It was quite tough to hold back the tears around that because it was quite emotional thinking about it but this group is so special, and the amount of care that is within this group is unbelievable," she said.
After levelling the three-match series 1-1 on Saturday, Devine will lead the White Ferns in the deciding third T20I at Taunton on Thursday. England and New Zealand will then face off in five ODIs between September 16-26.