Courageous Kerr returns to Heat after mental health 'crisis'

Amelia Kerr's comeback after plumbing the depth of a mental health battle continues with confirmation she will resume her Brisbane Heat career this year for WBBL|08

New Zealand's leg-spinning allrounder Amelia Kerr will return to the Weber WBBL this summer to resume her association with the Brisbane Heat, having missed last season as she dealt with a mental health crisis.

Prodigiously talented with bat and ball, Kerr was part of the Heat's title-winning side in WBBL|05 and played again in WBBL|06 but stunned the cricket community in mid-2021 when she announced she was stepping back from the game, pulling out of a White Ferns tour of England, and subsequently WBBL|07.

The 21-year-old later revealed she had been battling mental health demons for the best part of 18 months, including throughout WBBL|06 in 2020, until it reached crisis point and a trip to the emergency department last July.

In a harrowing tell-all interview with NZ website Newsroom last December, Kerr revealed she had been battling issues that surfaced shortly before her second season with the Heat in WBBL|06.

With the tournament played under strict bubble conditions, Kerr detailed how cricket became her sanctuary as her life slipped into disarray off the field.

Heat and NZ teammate Maddy Green became a close confidant during that period. And Green was again on hand to support Kerr when the White Ferns, concerned for her mental health and welfare, sent her home from a training camp in July 2021.

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"The next day, Mum and Dad took me to the emergency department and to the crisis team, as I needed to get into the system as soon as possible," Kerr told Newsroom.

"We waited eight hours, but I'm so glad I had my family; I would have never gone by myself. It reminded me how important having support is. Without the support I had, I'd still be suffering."

"It was a blur and a surreal experience. The process I went through was so scary and so hard, but it was what I needed and I wouldn't have been able to do it without my family. My family saved my life."

A psychiatrist prescribed medication for anxiety and depression and Kerr is happy to talk about her battles as the stigma around mental health issues continues to be eroded.

"I thought (medication) may affect my trainings and I didn't want to become reliant on them," Kerr said. "But I knew it was for the best – that to get better, medication was going to help as well as therapy.

"I now don't worry about how long I'll have to be on them for, if they help me feel happier and help my mind to relax."

Since, Kerr has returned to playing, helping Wellington to an unbeaten T20 title, while starring for the White Ferns in their ICC World Cup campaign earlier this year.

She was named New Zealand Cricket's female ODI player of the year in April after her 554 runs and 16 wickets during the season, and will play for the London Spirit at this year's Hundred, as well as in New Zealand's Commonwealth Games campaign before featuring in WBBL|08.

"We were so pleased to see 'Melie' back smiling and enjoying cricket again and are really looking forward to having her join us for the WBBL," Heat coach Ashley Noffke said today.

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"Her batting during the World Cup was impressive in spite of some challenging conditions and it will be great to see her continue to develop her skills further.

"We're excited to have her back in the squad this summer and I think her experience and insights will be very valuable for the group.

"Our young players will really enjoy the chance to learn from 'Melie' as they play alongside her."

Kerr has played 30 WBBL matches with the Heat, taking 31 wickets and scoring 204 runs.

Brisbane Heat WBBL|08 squad (so far): Jess Jonassen (c), Amelia Kerr (NZ), Nicola Hancock, Ellie Johnston, Charli Knott, Georgia Redmayne, Courtney Sippel, Georgia Voll