Durham batsman Jack Burnham has vowed to continue battling his inner demons after returning to cricket following a 12-month drugs ban.
The 21-year-old was suspended after testing positive for cocaine last October – the THIRD drugs test the youngster has failed.
Durham decided to stick by the talented player rather than sacking him, and Burnham has vowed to repay the faith shown in him by the club, his family and his team-mates after returning to the ranks.
He said: “I’ve felt lots of emotions over the past 12-18 months - disappointment in myself, regret, devastation.
“I’ve lost family and friends as a result of my actions. I felt invincible and never thought it would come to this.
“Everything fell to the floor, I didn’t know what to do for a couple of weeks.
“Luckily, my mam sat me down and gave me a back-hander – it was the first honest chat I’d had in my whole life.
“I really opened up for the first time and it was a huge weight off my chest. I had bottled up things from my childhood but now it’s just a massive relief.
“She said she had my back, so I decided to get my life back on track, but it could have gone the other way.
“I let my family down massively in all of this and that hurts.
“I’ve been at Durham since I was seven years old, and it was thanks to my parents that I made it as a cricketer.
“And there I was, throwing away all their hard work. I felt like a disgrace. I knew I was going down a bad path.”
Burnham, who finished as the highest run scorer at the Under-19 Cricket World Cup two years ago, and who became the third-youngest player to sore a first-class century for Durham when he hit 135 against Surrey at The Oval, sought professional help from the Professional Cricketers’ Association and Durham.
Now, with the help of a counsellor, he says he is getting to grips with issues from his childhood and is in a ‘good place’.
And afer a year spent working on a building site, while playing club cricket at weekends for Hetton Lyons in the NEPL Premier League, he says he’s now ready to regain the trust of his Durham teammates.
“I’ve met the counsellor a number of times and travelled to see him in Notts,” Burnham told Sky Sports in a revealing interview. “We FaceTime often and I can call him to talk whenever I need him.
“I’ve really let him into those things that happened in childhood – things that you really don’t want to tell anyone. These are things that probably wouldn’t have been addressed. I hadn’t let anyone in – not even my parents.
“Every morning I write out a list of things that describe how happy or sad I am.
“I remind myself through the day and then do it again before I go to bed. It reminds me that I’m in a good place.
“I’m so grateful to the club, what they have done for me has been amazing. I’ll never forget the support they have given me.
“But I have good days and bad, and I know that I still have a lot of hard work ahead of me to regain the trust of the club and my teammates.
“I let them down badly and I’ve said sorry, but I want to regain their trust with actions and not words.
“I deserved my ban and in a weird way I’m glad it happened.
“I learned hard life lessons and a lot of things about myself. It seems strange to say I’m glad I got caught, but as a result of the positive test I’m now in a lot better place.”