Former Australian Test captain Kim Hughes to use his booze story to inspire cricketers
Kim Hughes is back as skipper and the former Test captain could not be more content in the role.
“I’ve become an Uber driver for my mates after they’ve had a drink,” he said.
“I don’t drink anymore so I have become a more popular skipper than when I was actually the skipper.”
It is 46 weeks since Hughes, 67, had his last alcoholic drink.
- Reigning champs hoping for second serve of silverware
- ‘Merit in it’: What WAFLW can learn from VFLW
- ‘I’m myself again’: Cotton declares himself fit for NBL22
It was at the WAIS Hall of Champions event and Hughes’ erratic behaviour at the function sounded loud alarm bells with his son Bradley and several close mates who were becoming increasing concerned about him.
Always an effervescent character who played 70 Tests with the same verve that he brought to his public life, in reality Hughes’ private life was spiralling out of control.
His corporate speaking career have dried up due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he had fractured his relationships with his family and the more his life unravelled, the more he drank to compensate.
“I was drinking more than I should have and Bradley gave it to me right between the eyes,” he said.
“He said ‘You drive to the Marmion Angling Club over the limit every day, you have lost your licence twice and you could be in an accident and kill yourself or worse kill someone else’.
“It was a pretty old-fashioned approach but the wake-up call that I needed.
“I was going to kill myself or someone else and I needed help.”
That help came from two old cricketing mates in Wayne Clark and Richard Menasse, the latter a lead at mental health service MH Connext who was able to put Hughes on the path to recovery.
That recovery included two weeks in a mental health facility where Hughes was able to address some of the issues that had led him to his alcohol addiction.
“That was real eye-opener,” he said.
“You walk in and everyone knows you as the captain of the Australian Test team but that doesn’t stop you having the same issues that affect so many other people.
“I was one of the oldest in there and I was shocked at how many young people were also there, particularly young girls, who were dealing with issues mainly to do with drugs rather than alcohol.
“But it was the best thing I have ever done.
“I have reconnected with my four children, we have had three grandchildren born this year and have another one due, and I am now in a position to give a bit back by using my story to help other people in the same boat as me.”
Hughes has become an ambassador for Richmond Wellbeing, the community-based mental health organisation that is rolling out programs at cricket clubs to help players address their own issues.
The WA Suburban Turf Cricket Association will present the Mental Health Round this weekend to kick off WA Mental Health Week.
Richmond Wellbeing chief executive Adrian Munro, a player at the Kalamunda club, designed the Bouncing Back mental health and wellbeing program for clubs in response to the recent death of a club member.
“Sporting clubs can be a safe and non-threatening ally in opening up discussions and promoting resources for mental health, particularly for men,” Munro said. “Kim Hughes sees this value.
“Bouncing Back helps clubs offer practical support beyond a few words of encouragement in the changerooms, and in a place where players are usually most comfortable.”
Hughes, who started drinking as a 15-year-old club cricketer in the company of older team-mates, quickly discovered that he liked the taste and the sense of being bullet-proof.
He recognised that it could take a significant intervention to help people address their mental health issues but believed his life story could provide an effective starting point.
“In my role at Richmond Wellbeing, I will be talking to clubs and groups about my struggles and how they can be empowered to seek help to overcome their own,” he said.
“It might not be alcohol – it might be drugs, or gambling or relationships.
“It is not easy for people, particularly blokes, to admit they have an issue.
“It is not blokey to admit that you are not going too good and you have to ask a bloke three times to get the story.
“Hopefully, my story can help them do that.”
Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.
Sign up for our emails