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Cricket news - Neesham's life after contemplating retirement
After New Zealand's early exit in the Champions Trophy 2017 combined with a slight dip in form, James Neesham, for once, thought his chances of getting back to the national set-up were pretty slim and battled mental struggles before eventually returning as one of the first-choice all-rounders in the recently-announced World Cup squad.
"I'm not much of a communicator at the best of times, I'm not sure many New Zealand blokes are, and just being able to talk through a few of the struggles I was having off the field [was good]," Neesham told stuff.co.nz.
The 28-year-old even pondered retirement plans last summer, but a quick chat with Heath Mills, the players' association chief, totally turned things around for Neesham who's all set to play his first ODI World Cup.
"He convinced me to take a little break and come back three or four weeks later, and obviously from there I've been able to make progress steadily and come back into the fold with Wellington and make this team as well and it's been a surreal rise, I guess," Neesham said of Mills.
"He basically told me to go home, have a couple of weeks off, not pick up a cricket bat, and see how I felt in a fortnight or so and we'd gradually talk about getting back into the game again
"When I did go back to Otago, I didn't want to. I wanted to have another week or so off, but he convinced me the best way to get back on the bike is to just get back on and see how you go. The end of that season was a little bit better and the next season after a six-month break was better again."
After a tough eighteen months post the Champions Trophy exile, Neesham moved from Otago to Wellington last winter, a move that helped him set things on track. "I wanted to dominate domestic cricket and wanted to score hundreds every game and once that starts going in a downward spiral and you're not going well and you're not scoring runs, you put more pressure on yourself.
"Also going to the new environment [in Wellington] with [coach] Bruce Edgar and [senior players] Hamish Bennett and Michael Bracewell was a breath of fresh air, and also just being able to approach the game carefree again."
The Kiwi all-rounder also lauded Paula Dennan, an Auckland-based psychologist, for helping him out in overcoming the mental struggles during tough times.
"Waking up in the morning and opening the shades, hoping it was raining is not the ideal way to be starting a day of cricket and I think I got to the point where I needed to have a full overhaul of the way I was approaching the game and she facilitated that," he said.
"It only took five or six sessions to really start to see some progress and feel confident going back onto the field again."
Neesham was drafted back into the national squad during the Sri Lanka series in January at home on the back of a scintillating batting form in the domestic One-Day competition in which he captained the Wellington Firebirds to a title win in the Ford Trophy. He also struck two hundreds during the competition and provided crucial breakthroughs with the ball.
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