The overnight news from Australia is that Jonathan Trott has become the first casualty of the Ashes tour flying home because of a stress related illness.
The England batsman will take a break from cricket for the foreseeable future and explained his decision:
“I don’t feel it is right that I’m playing knowing that I’m not 100% and I cannot currently operate at the level I have done in the past. My priority now is to take a break from cricket so that I can focus on my recovery. I want to wish my team mates all the very best for the remainder of the tour.”
Trott, so long considered England’s lynchpin at number 3, looked totally out of sorts at the Gabba producing one of the worst knocks in Test cricket with his second innings score of 9. The knock left such an impression on Australia that David Warner went public with his mental disintegration singling out Trott for being “weak”.
England’s Coach Andy Flower has played down the direct link between Warner’s words and Trott’s decision. He stressed the illness has been a long term thing, known to the England camp and thought he was well enough to take on an Ashes campaign. The stress of touring months at a time away from home is well documented. Ed Cowan has written a fantastic piece on why cricketers are more prone to depression than other sportsmen.
You only have to think of Michael Yardy who flew home from the World Cup in Sri Lanka and Marcus Trescothick who left Test cricket because of a stress related illness. Trescothick is in fact credited with changing the perception of mental health in sport.
Is sledging to blame?
The English press this morning would have you believe that sledging is one of the main culprits. They might support that claim with the news that Michael Clarke has just been fined 20% of his match fee for using offensive language whilst sledging Jimmy Anderson. But this would be some tenuous and seriously “weak” journalism.
Sledging and verbals are part of international sport and having a psychological edge is a determining factor in the outcome of results. Do we want cricket without drama? Do we want some anodyne product? Should we really crack down on one of the most colourful parts of a beautiful game?
You have to feel for Jonathan Trott in this instance. We wish him a speedy recovery and hope to see him in an England shirt in the future. But in no way can we attribute the behaviour of Michael Clarke and David Warner to his decision.
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