Hampshire cricketer Chris Wood has been involved in the county scene for over a decade. Recently he took the tough decision to explain to the world about his addiction to gambling.
A couple of weeks ago Chris felt it was the right time to come out and explain about his problem he has faced for a while.
“It was huge.” he said. “This is something that I have been battling for a very long time. In the last 17 months of recovery there was times where I thought I would never come out of this.” he added. “The biggest fear for me all along, especially during recovery was the fear of being judged. I know what it’s like, especially now on social media, and if I’m honest this time last week when I was thinking of putting it out there I was seriously worried because I thought there was going to be people who judged and that would leave me feeling very resentful and almost like I had done the wrong thing by putting my story out there, but I actually passed it on to the Hampshire guys the week before. Some of those guys knew my situation, some didn’t and some would have had no idea whatsoever, and shows you just how secretive I had managed to keep it towards the latter stages of my nine year career, but the response I had from them was absolutely huge.”
He explained that his gambling habit started off with some friends and small bets.
“I was never one for placing huge bets, it was not so much money on huge odds, but that was never enough as I always wanted more.” he said,”But in time I started to realise when I was in recovery it was because I was running away from me and the gambling actually wasn’t the problem, I was the problem, as gambling was the drug I chose to try and sedate how I was feeling.”
Chris owes a huge amount to Tony Adams and the Sporting Chance charity for helping him on the road to recovery.
“I owe an awful lot to Sporting Chance and the PCA who had that connection.” he said.” Going down there and doing my therapy sessions every two weeks, which stopped about two months ago, but I was doing it for about a year.” “They have shown me the way into a better way of living and being more honest”, he added.
Chris’s advice to anybody else in the same situation is simple really.
“To reach out. It’s the best thing you will ever do, but I also understand it’s the hardest step and the biggest step is showing vulnerability and admitting that you are an addict, because it is a killer disease.”
Looking ahead to the possibility of cricket being played in this country is very debatable at the moment.
The chances of potentially any county cricket being played this season are looking slim.
“As time goes on it’s looking more and more likely that will be the case.” He said. “I feel the optimism from the players is slowly drifting away, if you had asked me two or three weeks ago I would have said no we will still get twenty twenty and the hundred in, but in the last week that’s been taken away[hundred] and for county players it’s becoming very real that we won’t play any cricket at all this summer.”
Chris is a seasoned pro, having been with Hampshire since 2009, but is worried about the future.
“There’s many of us including myself who are out of contract, and we just don’t know how that’s going to look moving forward. I try not to predict to far into the future, but it could be strange looking back on my career saying I could have played for 15 or 16 years, but oh no it was actually 14 as we didn’t play for a whole season back in 2020.”
The T20 Blast is the big money in county cricket, and the ECB will try as hard as they can to somehow get this played, but Chris has his doubts.
“I feel they will be doing everything they can to get the Blast on.” he said.”If it’s feasible, I’m not sure, they will try and get the Blast on into September and October to get some revenue back into cricket, I think they are very much hoping that is the case, but if that’s cancelled as well it could leave some counties in dire straits.”
There is still a lot of concerns about the risks involved if the players could get back out onto the field.
“For a players safety perspective, especially with the guys with younger children, you have to take so much into consideration.” he said,” people’s families, not just the people involved just to put a cricket match on.” Everybody is desperate for the cricket season to get going, but if it is going to put people at risk, is it really worth taking that just to keep the detriment of the game, after all we are talking about people,s life’s here.”