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Trott's Ashes exit bares truth about cricketers' mental health

November 28, 2013 08:54 IST

Trott's Ashes exit bares truth about cricketers' mental health

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Jonathan Trott is not the first instance of a cricketer suffering from stress-related issues. Many of his compatriots, as some of the game’s big names, says Bikash Mohapatra, were laid low by depression.

Jonathan Trott is not the first instance of a cricketer suffering from stress-related issues. Many of his compatriots, as also some of the game’s big names, were laid low by depression.

Jonathan Trott will take a break from cricket for the foreseeable future and will take no further part in the tour. That was a statement from the England and Wales Cricket Board after England's number three batsman left the Ashes tour with a stress-related illness.

The announcement followed soon after England was thrashed by Australia in the opening Test of the series in Brisbane.

'I don't feel it is right that I'm playing knowing that I'm not 100 per cent and I cannot currently operate at the level I have done in the past,' the batsman said later.

Truth be told, Trott wasn't the batsman he used to be. He scored just 19 runs in the match, this after averaging under 30 in the corresponding series in England earlier in the year.

The fact that the Australian bowlers had an impact on his psyche tells a lot about the mental state the 32-year-old Warwickshire batsman is in at the moment. In fact, it won't be an exaggeration to say that he failed his team completely, probably at the worst possible time.

Having said that, it must be said, it wasn't the first instance of a cricketer suffering from stress-related issues. Many of Trott's compatriots faced similar problems.

Let’s look at a few of them, and how the rigours of touring took its toll on them.


Image: Jonathan Trott of England walks off the field after being dismissed by Mitchell Johnson in Brisbane
Photographs: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

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'I didn't understand what was happening to me'

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When England won the Ashes after almost two decades, in 2005, a star was born.

Andrew Flintoff was considered the new Ian Botham. He could score runs galore, take wickets at crucial junctures and be the team player that England so desperately needed to build on that success.

However, instead of handling the pressure Flintoff succumbed under the weight of expectation. Captaining the team in the return series he could do nothing to avoid a humiliating 5-0 whitewash.

'I didn't understand what was happening to me. I felt tired and miserable,' admitted Flintoff later, confessing he had lost his joy for the game and hit the bottle.

To his credit, though, he recovered to end his career on a high, with another Ashes triumph! The Englishman later explored the depression suffered by so many sport stars in a BBC1 documentary titled, Freddie Flintoff: Hidden Side Of Sport.


Image: England's Andrew Flintoff
Photographs: REUTERS/Philip Brown

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Trescothick returned home from tours twice in 2006

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Marcus Trescothick’s case is well-known.

One of the most talented batsmen, he was also one of the most susceptible.

The English left-hander, who returned home mid-way both from the tour of Australia in 2006, and again from the 2006 tour of India, citing personal reasons thereafter, also fought depression.

Though initially successful in his battle, he eventually succumbed to it, and a productive international career was thereby cut short.

Trescothick later wrote a book about his battle against depression. Coming Back To Me was straight from the heart.


Image: England's Marcus Trescothick
Photographs: REUTERS/Kieran Doherty

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'At one point I was struggling inside'

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Steve Harmison is, without doubt one, of the best fast bowlers England has ever produced.

Having spearheaded the attack to claim victory against Australia in the Ashes (2005), he continued to impress in the following years.

However, he did admit later how he fought a long battle with depression. It was probably something that kept him from playing longer than he eventually did.

'At one point I was the No 1 bowler in the world -- yet I was struggling inside,' he told Flintoff, during the latter’s show.


Image: England's Steve Harmison gestures in frustration
Photographs: REUTERS/Philip Brown

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Yardy flew home during the 2011 World Cup

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Michael Yardy was one of the key contributors when England won the World T20 in 2010, the country’s first world title.

The all-rounder also happened to be to be one of England’s biggest casualties in what was a disastrous World Cup campaign the following year.

Yardy flew home from the tournament after suffering from depression.

Months of continual travelling -- England had a packed schedule that season -- had taken its toll on Yardy.

He never returned!


Image: England's Michael Yardy arrives for a training session in this file picture
Photographs: REUTERS/Philip Brown

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Tait quit the game indefinitely following mental exhaustion

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Shaun Tait is, arguably, Australia’s biggest example to this end.

Having burst into the international scene, taking 23 wickets in Australia’s 2007 World Cup triumph amongst others, Tait soon felt the heat.

The bowler subsequently admitted battling mental exhaustion for months, something that culminated with his shock decision to quit the game indefinitely. Tait proceeded to consult players who had battled depression.

The move worked as he did manage to rekindle a desire to play cricket again, impressing, particularly, in the T20 format.


Image: Australia's Shaun Tait
Photographs: REUTERS/Stringer

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O'Brien had trouble coping socially when at home

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Iain O'Brien played 22 Tests for New Zealand from 2005 too 2009 before retiring. It was a premature departure from the game in more ways than one.

O'Brien later admitted that he battled depression at the early age of 20, but it took him 15 years to deal with it!

What was surprising in the admission was the fact though the pacer was much more comfortable on the road, he had trouble coping socially when at home.

Retirement seemed the only way out.


Image: Iain O'Brien of New Zealand bowls
Photographs: Sandra Mu/Getty Images

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Martyn quit cricket abruptly during the 2007 Ashes

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One of the most elegant batsmen to have graced the game, Damien Martyn was also a gullible personality.

Despite scoring runs galore in both Tests and one-dayers, the Australian battled stress-related issues.

Martyn’s ordeal culminated in a sudden mid-series announcement pertaining to his international retirement, during the 2006-07 Ashes at that.

'Mentally, I wasn't right, my batting wasn't right and I felt I was letting the side down,' he admitted later about his sudden decision.

'There was a burn-out factor. In my mental state, I just felt I couldn't give Ricky Ponting (the then captain) 100 per cent,' he added.


Image: Australia's Damien Martyn
Photographs: REUTERS/David Gray

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Hughes suffered a breakdown owing to the constant pressure

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Kim Hughes is probably the most sentimental addition to this list.

As captain of Australia when the team was going through one of its worst phases, the resultant stress got the better of Hughes.

The simultaneous retirement of stalwarts like Dennis Lillee, Greg Chappell and Rodney Marsh left a mammoth vacuum in the team, and Australia struggled miserably after that, even losing successive series to New Zealand home and away.

Hughes suffered a mental breakdown owing to the constant pressure exerted on the side. The sight of him crying in front of the media while announcing his resignation as captain remains a lasting memory.


Image: A depressed Kim Hughes the captain of Australia after his team's loss to England at the Oval
Photographs: Adrian Murrell/Allsport

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Stress affected Yuvraj's batting

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We end with the mention of Yuvraj Singh.

Though his was not a case of acute depression, it was definitely stress-related.

The flamboyant batsman was worried that he was not scoring enough hundreds and it was affecting his batting considerably.

It was only after repeated discussions with Paddy Upton that Yuvi got out of the state, going on to star in India’s World Cup triumph in 2011.


Image: Yuvraj Singh
Photographs: REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

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