Put yourself in the shoes of Kusal Mendis. It’s not an easy task, considering he was tossed into the role of captain only a couple of matches into a World Cup. His team just lost two consecutive games and five of the last seven. They were completely trounced by a highly-skilled Indian cricket team and the memes and abuse his team received were relentless. Mendis decided to stop the negativity by avoiding social media. He attended a media briefing with English as his second language and tried to stay positive, but it didn’t work so well when he was asked about congratulating Virat Kohli on his 49th ODI century during a conference about a match between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. His reaction to the question received backlash from fans and even stirred up some tension with Sri Lanka’s northern neighbors.
Mendis has been the target of criticism on social media before and asked for support. He admitted that the abuse he suffered online had a profound impact on his mental well-being. He revealed that it was hard for him to play his typical game as captain, but didn’t feel pressured by the role itself. After his performance significantly dropped, he called for the spread of positivity in difficult times.
Mendis has also faced other challenges in his life, including a car accident and a ban for breaching bio-bubble protocols. He has started speaking out on the abuse that athletes suffer. He’s asking people to share videos of Sri Lankan players succeeding, offer encouragement, and spread positivity, especially in tough times. With the increasing discussion around mental well-being, Mendis’ request is something that fans and others should support. It’s not that difficult to do.