Monday 17 March 2014 

Comment - Was Jonathan Trott Really Ill?

Jonathan Trott
Jonathan Trott pictured in Brisbane. Did he have a stress-related illness? Was he ill at all?
© REUTERS / Action Images
 
Runs HS Av. 100 50
Tests 49 3,763 226 46.45 9 18
ODIs 68 2,819 137 51,25 4 22

If I tell you that a player whose stats read something like those you can see below the image, right, at international level is struggling, you would probably laugh at me or give one of those outrageous looks.

But that’s true and we are talking about Jonathan Trott, the player who many might say had left his team in Hell Down Under to save himself.

When he left Australia after playing the first Test at the Gabba due to what was announced as 'a stress-related illness', many people raised questions and rightly so about his mental capacity to cope with tough situations. David Warner also commented on Trott during the first Test, labelling him as 'poor and weak'.

But now that he is ready to make a comeback in county cricket, in an exclusive television interview for Sky Sports he revealed what he went through during the time he was away from cricket.

In that interview he admitted how he was unable to switch off from cricket when he was not playing, how he was no more enjoying his drive that he usually loved to do, as well as many more examples.

I think the real problem started much earlier during the Ashes 2013 in England which they won 3-0.

Winning the Ashes is ranked pretty high in every English or Australian player’s career but in between those high fives and hurrahs, the England team management somehow failed to take note of Trott and the misery he is going through.

In that series, Trott scored only 293 runs in five Tests at an average of 29.30 which was well below his career average and further below his average of 86.42 against Australia.

He did not even manage to cross 60 in the whole series. Trott started to question himself and his ability to succeed at the highest level. When his fellow team mates took three weeks off at the end of 2013 summer, he returned to the nets straight away knowing that he had let himself down and started piling more and more pressure on himself.

At the end of it all he allowed himself just four days off.

Then in September 2013, he scored two ducks and scored 28 runs in the third ODI that was abandoned due to rain. Nobody knew the exact reason that Trott was not available for the fifth and final ODI which hints at the state of his mind during that time.

"But the real question remains unanswered: was it really a 'stress-related illness' which needs medical attention or was it a scenario where a player was burned out due to too much cricket or a player who was unable to cope with on-field pressure?"

The failure in the first Test at the Gabba confirmed to him that it was probably time to distance himself from cricket for the betterment of the team and more importantly - himself.

Coming from a cricketing family where your father is a coach always adds some extra pressure and expectations. In his interview with Sky Sports he accepted that during that game in Brisbane, it felt like 50,000 people in the stadium wanted him to fail and he was unable to suppress that feeling.

But the real question remains unanswered: was it really a 'stress-related illness' which needs medical attention or was it a scenario where a player was burned out due to too much cricket or a player who was unable to cope with on-field pressure?

Whatever the reason may be (though it looks quite obvious that it was not illness) it would appear there has been a cover-up by the England & Wales Cricket Board.

Looking at Trott’s future as an England player, it will be a challenge for sure to make a comeback but what will be even more challenging is to win the confidence back of his team once again.

With Andy Flower not around, and Kevin Pietersen no longer part of the squad, who knows what is in store for Trott but whatever happens he has to accept that it is just a game in the end; there is life beyond cricket too.

I know it is very easy to say but that is the truth and that is what every player goes through at least once in his career.

Only time will tell if he can make a comeback to England’s national team; for now, we can but wish him the best.

© Cricket World 2014

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