World champions advised to hire shrink

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Melbourne, Nov 15 (UNI) World champions have been advised to hire a full-time travelling sports psychologist to help prevent mental problems that have afflicted players such as Andrew Symonds and Shaun Tait.

Former Australian coach John Buchanan is behind a push for an extended team support network, including a sports psychologist, and the Australian Cricketers' Association is developing a blueprint to examine the issue.

''Cricket Australia has always argued that it is a fairly expensive exercise to have a sports psychologist or a doctor on tour ... it probably is, but I would say the benefits of having one can be pretty significant,'' Buchanan said.

''I definitely think professional cricketers should have very good emotional care and a very broad support network.'' ACA chief Paul Marsh said, ''Our cricketers spend a lot of time away from family and friends and we have to look at their welfare in this regard.'' ''We are talking to some experts in the field to help us put together a plan.'' Symonds and Tait have had issues with mental fatigue in the past 12 months, while Brett Lee recently had to deal with his marriage break-up.

Brisbane-based sports psychologist Phil Jauncey, who was periodically consulted by Australia's cricketers when Buchanan was in charge, said, ''I think it is helpful if you have someone who is around the players a lot of the time who can see the warning signs early.

''It's good to get a close enough relationship with players to have a good knowledge of them and how you can help when needed.'' India and South Africa both have ''mental coaches''.

India's coach Gary Kirsten has appointed former South African cricketer Paddy Upton to oversee mental conditioning, while former England off-spinner Jeremy Snape is South Africa's mental coach.

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