Sussex cricket captain Michael Yardy’s early withdrawal from England’s recent world cup run in India brought questions about depression in sport back onto the agenda.

Should players be forced to endure such hectic schedules and long periods away from home while having to perform at the highest level?

How does somebody suffer depression doing something they love and are well paid to do?

Are players softer nowadays?

Straight-talking professional Yorkshireman, Geoffrey Boycott, a man renowned for accuracy as well as for ineloquence, fanned the fire by declaring Yardy not up to scratch.

Although he used to seek out Boycott for advice after games because he knew he’d get the truth about his batting performance, Mark Butcher, another former England opening batsman turned media pundit, one of the game’s deep thinkers not afraid to embrace his emotional side, took a different view.

He posted a message on his blog admitting that after suffering on the road in 2000 in South Africa (he had left with his marriage in tatters, a daughter under the age of one and another child on theway), he turned to drink to get through the trip.

He said his health, his form and his reputation suffered; had he been playing today, he might not have been talked into staying on tour by management.

But times have changed, he thinks. Our approach has advanced. In the past, to admit depression would have been perceived as weakness.

“One of the most difficult things about being on tour is not you being away but the things you cannot control happening at home.

“A lot of the guys are married with young kids, and if you’ve had a bad day on the pitch, the missus is miserable because something has gone wrong at home, the kids are playing up and you can’t do anything about it, it just compounds that feeling of being a very long way from home.”

One of the techniques he used to offset the boredom was to play the guitar. He used to sit in his hotel room writing songs or practising but rarely shared his creations with the other players.

That all changed in 2003 when he wrote You’re Never Gone for Surrey teammate Ben Hollioake, at the time one of England’s most promising youngsters, who was killed in a road accident in Australia.

“I was on tour in the middle of a testmatch when we saw it flash up on the TV screen. I’d just got out and was sat in the dressing room taking my pads off when a banner flashed up about the accident saying Ben had passed away.

“I was devastated to hear the news and to find out in the way I did. Because we were in New Zealand I couldn’t get to the service. I had my guitar with me on the trip, as I always did, so I wrote the song.”

Hollioake’s family invited Butcher to play the song at a memorial service in London later that year. Not long after he was asked to go into the studio to record the single for a charity release.

Butcher’s father, uncle and brother were all professional cricketers but music was as important at home as sport. His father did a devilish Mick Jagger impersonation and loved the blues and rock ’n’ roll.

His Jamaican mother taught herself piano and clarinet, and was crazy for reggae and Bob Marley.

Mark listened to everything from Queen and Deep Purple to John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix.

He taught himself to play guitar at the age of 13 (“I brought the Bluesbreakers home and wore the grooves out on the vinyl trying to learn it”) but his strumming slipped away with the demands of preparing to face the likes of Courtney Walsh, Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne.

“Ben’s accident got me writing again, got me back into music. I’d left it for ten to 12 years before that.”

Eight years later Butcher is coming to Brighton to promote his debut album, Songs From The Sun House.

The 12-track record, released in 2009, is straight-up soul and blues, led by a Hammond organ and thick, noodling guitar licks. Butcher’s voice has pathos and character, and he has proved himself a showman having partnered Sarah Brightman on BBC’s Just The Two Of Us in 2007.

Solid, funky drums and tight basslines back up thematerial written between 2003 and 2008.

"I was going through a major change in terms of personal and family relationships so a lot of the stuff, lyrically, reflects that,” he says.

“I divorced in the early 2000s and had three kids and various other relationships that went tits up. So it was coming out of all that, with something different and positive in my personal life, which inspired it. I try to write stuff that is both personal to me and yet could also mean something to someone else.”

Being so well known for one professional pursuit can hinder development in another but it does bring benefits.

Radio 2’s Bob Harris, a big cricket fan, had the Mark Butcher Band in recently for an acoustic session.

Before that, Mark had the pleasure of being plonked next to his hero at a cricket dinner one night.

“I met Eric Clapton though a charity cricket team called The Bunburys, which is run by David English, who used to be part of the management team that looked after Clapton in the early 1970s with RSO Records. He knew how much I admired him and he sat me next to him. After not being able to say anything for a good ten minutes I said, ‘Eric, I need to get this out there and then we can get on with the dinner… look, basically, I love you,’ he laughed, then the ice was broken and we got on with dinner.”

The pair bumped into each other a couple of times and Mark sent him a copy of the album when it was finished. “I got a text message from him saying it was great stuff, how much he liked the vocals and the songs, and well done, which was a pretty magic moment.”

Surely, though, it is not as magic as getting 173 against the Aussies at Headingly when you’ve been written off by the critics after a dire slump in form?

“I can’t do that anymore so it does. The cricket side of it is something I loved. I did it for 20 years, had a great time, but one thing you know early on as a pro sportsman is that you can’t do it forever.

“You need to have other interests. To have ability at something else is pretty fortunate. I get the chance to keep having that same buzz, the feeling of adrenaline I got when I played cricket against the best.”