RAJESH KUMAR - Cricket Statisticians
The Hard Yards
The Hard Yards - Highs and Lows of a Life in Cricket by Mike Yardy

Published by Pitch Publishing Ltd.
A2 Yeoman Gate, Yeoman Way, Worthing, Sussex BN13 3QZ

Web: pitchpublishing.co.uk

Paperback 288 Pages
RRP: Sterling Pounds 18.99
ISBN 978 178531 1567

No batsman of modern times has experienced Mike Yardy's highs and lows.

The Hard Yards is a sporting autobiography with a real difference; the story of a courageous sportsman who confronted his problems head-on and now, having retired in 2015, is studying for a degree in sports psychology, a career which he hopes to help other athletes deal with the highs and the lows of professional sport.

Bruce Talbot, who collaborated with Mike Yardy on this book, is a Sussex-based cricket writer. He has covered the game for nearly 30 years.

For Mike Yardy, the England and Sussex cricketer who retired last autumn after an eight-year struggle against mental illness, it was about "intrusive thoughts" that drained him during an improbably successful career.

Matt Prior, in his foreword, says, "Leaving the game for good can be very difficult to accept for any professional sportsman but Yards was fortunate to be able to retire from the game in 2015 on his own terms. Filling the gaping hole in your life which was once occupied with playing sport for a living can be difficult but I know how much he enjoys studying a subject which has always interested him. I know too that Mike will do everything to make himself the best sports psychologist he can. His own personal experience will make him exceptional at this I am sure and I don't doubt that he will be a huge asset to his fellow professionals one day."

Sussex County Cricket Club have played such a big part in Yardy's story so far. He says actually, it is people that make an organisation special, not the name. All the people, who worked at the club during the 16 years he was player and captain, helped to make it such a special time for him.

Yardy admires Paul Collingwood a lot. "He loved the England experience - every single element of it: travel, train, play, socialise. I don't think it's a coincidence that he had such a fantastic international career because of that."

Yardy is full of praise for Andy Flower as coach and says it was always a pleasure to play for him. With Paul Collingwood as one-day captain, the pair of them clicked straight away as the emphasis was on enjoyment and playing without any fear and Colly always came across as relaxed and in control.

Karin Yardy, Mike's wife, has written an interesting chapter, namely Dealing with depression, in her husband's autobiography: "It has been eight years now since Mike, my husband, first started to experience depression. There have been some very difficult episodes for both of us since then but as I sit here, in the spring of 2016, I'm hopeful that perhaps the very worst is thankfully behind us. Mike hasn't needed to see a therapist since June 2015 and I'm convinced that his decision to retire from cricket, which he announced a month later before playing his final game for Sussex in September 2015, is a big factor for his improvement. It has certainly made our home life a lot better having him around much more"
This excellent book published by Pitch Publishing Ltd is a quality production. Binding, paper, splendid print and coloured photos - indeed, the whole presentation - are of a very high order. The publication is a welcome addition to the library of any true cricket lover interested in the career of Mike Yardy.