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Jonathan Trott – it’s pretty straightforward.

2014 March 17
by Legsidelizzy

It’s been more than a little disappointing to read Trott being accused of being a bottler or a quitter after his interviews in which has said he wasn’t depressed – he was burnt out and exhausted.

At the time, the ECB described it as a “stress-related illness” and one that he had battled with for some time. 

Perhaps, with hindsight, it would have been better to describe what Trott was suffering from a little more clearly and accurately.  The term “stress-related illness” is interpreted as a serious mental illness which could range from depression to anxiety to a full on breakdown.

In reality, what Trott was suffering from was mental and physical exhaustion which rendered him unable to play to the high standards he expected of himself and that we had come to expect from him.  He and the ECB medics took the decision that he needed a break from cricket and he needed to come home.

I spoke to a GP friend to ask what he would do if someone came to him describing the symptoms that Trott has said he was suffering from.  He said that almost certainly he would sign the person off work for a while to start with and see if rest and a break resulted in recovery. If it didn’t, he would investigate whether a more serious mental illness was the cause and then recommend appropriate treatment. 

That’s quite pertinent – Trott leaving Oz was the equivalent of you or I being signed off work by the GP for a bit.  Where’s the controversy there? It happens daily to hundreds of people in the country. 

The notion that Trott was scared of fast bowling is, quite frankly, ridiculous and something cited by people who’ve clearly forgotten the years when Trott has been very successful against fast bowling.  Short memories by some.

Trott was mentally and physically exhausted.  It had rendered him incapable of being able to play cricket or cope with the pressure of the international sporting arena.  In some part, the ECB must take some blame for this.  What we expect of our cricketers is ridiculous.  It’s too much. It’s a serious miracle that more of them aren’t burnt out. 

It is surely a braver decision to admit that you’re struggling and that you need a break than to try and guts it out in a macho bravado way.  In the male sporting environment, it’s not easy to admit a weakness.  It takes some guts to hold your hands up and say “it’s no good, I’m going to have to stop”. This applies to Graeme Swann’s retirement as much as it does to Trott’s decision to quit the tour.

It’s not a weakness, it’s brave. It goes against the grain of the testosterone filled macho environment of the sporting world. 

It’s here I have to declare an interest.  I struggle to be entirely objective when discussing Jonathan Trott for this reason.

Earlier in the year, a great friend and the owner of SPIN cricket magazine, was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given weeks to live.  Jonathan wrote this friend a very personal, hand written letter. I won’t divulge the contents as they were personal.  But despite everything that was going on with Jonathan at the time, he found the time and the compassion to write a heartfelt letter and make a phone call and in our friend’s darkest hour – when he was dying – Jonathan brought some light and a smile. 

Trott is a straightforward and honest man.  Cricket is and has been his life – to his own detriment.  There’s no conspiracy here.  There’s no hidden agenda.  There was no attempted. cover up of a man quitting cos he couldn’t hack it. 

It really is very straightforward.  Trott was exhausted – mentally and physically.  He’d burnt out and stress was a factor.  If he’d been a “normal” person, he’d have gone to the doctor and the doctor would have signed him off work for a bit.  How is this any different?

It isn’t.  He had some time off to rest and recuperate.  And now he’s ready to get back in the saddle. 

He hasn’t assumed that he will walk straight back into the England team – he has merely thrown his hat into the ring for selection.  He knows that he needs to demonstrate to the selectors and the public that he’s back firing with the bat and inside his head.  He wants to do that.

It’s really not sinister – it’s a simple thing. 

The ECB may want to think about how he got into that state in the first place and whether they way they described things to the media and public at the time was the correct way but Jonathan himself has nothing to feel guilty or sorry about. 

It’s disappointing that some are so ready to cast stones.

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13 Responses leave one →
  1. chris permalink
    March 17, 2014

    agreed. doesn’t surprise me that the most high-profile stone caster is from yorkshire though.

    • Micki permalink
      March 17, 2014

      I’m from Yorkshire and fully agree with everything said in this blog. I also think Vaughan is well out of order – please don’t tar us all with the same brush!

  2. zoner99 permalink
    March 17, 2014

    Couldn’t agree more. Both derek pringle and michael vaughan are bang out of order to question Trott’s integrity by suggesting he has “conned” the england set up. Here’s hoping Cook and what’s left of the england squad stick by him!

  3. Di Slater permalink
    March 17, 2014

    Completely agree with you on this.There is such ignorance out there with regards to mental health issues, even in this day and age. Such a pity Kim is not still around to fight the Trott corner.He could sum it all up in a few words and for myself it takes me many sentences . From a friend of Kims and Mrs Kim.

  4. ryan permalink
    March 17, 2014

    agree with all you’ve said.

  5. Sean permalink
    March 17, 2014

    Totally agree. I hope to see many more articles of this nature in the coming days. Vaughan and Pringle should be utterly ashamed of themselves and their Neanderthal views. I (politely) pointed out the flaws in Vaughan’s caveman attitude on Twitter. His response was to block me. Charming.

  6. Luke permalink
    March 17, 2014

    Agree with this.

    To take a silly example, I would really have respected Piers Morgan if, after a couple of balls from Brett Lee, he had said “OK, I am terrified. I’ve had enough. I can’t see the ball, let alone hit it. I shouldn’t have criticised the guys who do this properly.” That would have been much braver than continuing to “face” Lee by backing into the side netting.

  7. Dean Williamson permalink
    March 17, 2014

    Cant help but agree. Really hope Trott can get back to his best for England. As for “chris” comment ; bit disrespectful of you to tar all of Yorkshire like that, when in fact Vaughan is from Manchester

  8. March 18, 2014

    Agree entirely Lizzy. I work in quite a high pressure professional environment, where the ethos is “work hard / play hard”.

    I’m not saying my life is like that of an international sportsman, but last year, after over a decade working in international capital markets and the energy industry, I was very unwell and was hopitalised.

    Stupidly, I tried to come back to work when not fully recovered, suffered a relapse and then had months of illness and recovery – because I’d been stupid and tried to throw myself back into very high pressure situations too early for my body to cope with.

    I just hope that Trott gets proper medical advice on when he is definitely ready to come back. I think his industry will – by and large – understand what you’re saying. They’re less likely to if he does it again.

  9. Colin Rosenthal (@colinrosenthal) permalink
    March 18, 2014

    I also made the point to Vaughan and Pringle on twitter, that getting sick leave for stress is hardly “doing a runner”. I didn’t get blocked, but I didn’t get a response either.

  10. Saba permalink
    March 18, 2014

    Couldn’t agree more. It’s as simple and straightforward as that. People are spinning out a controversy themselves. It has just gone to show how woefully unaware people are about issues related to mental health. Severe or not severe, any case of stress related illness is meant to be taken seriously, and ECB did the right thing by immediately giving Trott time off. Keeping him on tour would only have worsened things for him and the team. Michael Vaughan should be ashamed of himself.

  11. March 19, 2014

    Nice piece. In the end it probably doesn’t matter what diagnosis Trott chooses to accept, except that accepting the wrong one will only lead to more pain before he starts to really recover. Burn out and depression have many similar symptoms, the difference being that depression will crash you to despair regardless of your circumstances and it reoccurs. A careful and more informed viewing of the SkySports interview reveals a man still recovering from depression and likely dealing with anxiety issues as well.
    I’ve made a detailed examination in my own article at http://www.thecricketragics.com but regardless, Trott deserves the sympathy and understanding Michael Vaughan gave him last November. It would have been far better if Trott had listened to ECB advice which told him he was not ready and not done the interview. One can’t help feeling that it was the self promoting motives of his manager which held sway.
    Vaughan reputation as a loose cannon broadcaster is at odds with his time as English captain. Maybe he just can’t stand the diminished limelight?
    I’m still clapping for Trotty.

  12. Chris May permalink
    April 9, 2014

    It’s like the Trescothick situation in reverse. Marcus did have a stress-related illness in 2006, but was initially advised to say he had some kind of ‘virus’, while Jonathan’s situation has been described in a sort of opposite fashion. All very poor really. I wish Jonathan well.

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