HAMPSHIRE legend Robin Smith is training to become a psychologist to help sportsmen avoid the difficulties he has encountered since his career ended 15 years ago.

Smith, who admits to having mental health issues since his distinguished Hampshire career ended in 2003, will be returning to the Ageas Bowl for the first time on August 28.

The former England batsman spoke of his passion to help others fill the void once their playing career is over, ahead of his return.

All 12 surviving Hampshire captains, including Smith and Shane Warne, will be at a Captains’ Dinner at the Ageas Bowl in a fortnight’s time.

Speaking to his former teammate Kevan James, who will be hosting the event, Smith revealed: “I’m currently studying to be a psychologist and the plan is to qualify in three-and-a-half years’ time.

“There is a such a deep process in trying to get over professional sport.

“I find mental health incredibly interesting and have suffered severely from that for some time since finishing from cricket.

“I’m thoroughly enjoying the course and just wish I’d taken this up towards the back end of my career.

“I approached the England selectors in 1991-92 about having a sports psychologist in our dressing room, but it was poo-pooed.

“It was a shame because a lot of players would have been much better with a sports psychologist within our midst.

“Many would have benefited from it - just look at how Mike Brearley brought out the best in Ian Botham.

“Beefy admits he wouldn’t be the player he was without Mike.”

Smith, who played for England from 1998-93 and captained Hampshire from 1998-2002, has lived in Australia since his playing days ended.

The 54 year-old said: “I’m finding the course very challenging.

“I found it hard enough to retain information at 16 so it’s very difficult now.

“And the vocabulary in my textbooks is very different to the words we used in the Hampshire dressing room!

“But when you’ve had that practical experience learning the theory is incredibly interesting.”

Smith is also writing a book revealing his struggles.

“If you don’t prepare for life after sport you’re in serious trouble,” he said.

“I’m writing an autobiography where I talk a lot about how difficult it is to cope once you finish something that’s absorbed most of your life.

“One of the hardest things is accepting the time has come to end your professional career.”

Joining Smith and Warne at The Ageas Bowl on August 28 will be Hampshire’s 11 other surviving captains: Richard Gilliat (1971-78), Bob Stephenson (1979), Nick Pocock (1980-84), Mark Nicholas (1985-1995), John Stephenson (1996-97), John Crawley (2003), Warne (2004-2007), Dimitri Mascarenhas (2008-10), Dominic Cork (2011), Jimmy Adams (2012-15) and James Vince (2015-present day).

Members’ tickets for the Captains’ Dinner are available at £75pp.

Standard tickets are available at £85pp or £800 for a table of 10.

For more information or to secure your place, contact the Ageas Bowl Ticket Office on 02380 472002 (Opt.2), via tickets@ageasbowl.com or in person during normal working hours, between Monday and Friday.