October 18, 2009

English cricket

Sport has nothing to do with depression

Nishi Narayanan

Marcus Trescothick is not the role model for sportsmen or sportswomen who suffer from depression because sport itself has nothing to do with depression, writes James Corrigan in the Independent On Sunday.

Trescothick flew home from India last week with a "stress-related disease" and the ensuing knee-jerkery led to media outlets asking sports stars – ideally, his former team-mates – for their views. After all, they have experienced the "unique pressures" placed on our sporting heroes and are thus qualified to comment. But are they? Aren't they, in fact, the worst qualified to comment, having lived the life and, in their eyes anyway, having survived the strife? On Friday, one former footballer, speaking on one sports channel, opined: "It's especially tougher on cricketers as they are away for months at a time. No one likes being away from their loved ones. Obviously Trescothick suffers very badly in this regard." The inference was that the Somerset batsman was plagued by some intense form of homesickness. The same overture accompanied each and every report. Of course, the descriptions of Trescothick's condition had to be pithy because of space constraints. But in all the shallowness, the insult of him somehow being "weaker" was inevitably cast.

In the Observer Vic Marks writes that Trescothick has broken convention by being a top sportsman who admits to frailties.

One of the most impressive things about Marcus Trescothick over the past couple of years has been his candour. When he was being badgered by the press just before the Oval Test this August he told us about the nightmare that helped confirm his decision not to pursue any sort of fairytale return to the Test team: how he dreamed that he was unable to get his cricket kit out of his bag while the rest of the side were ready and waiting for the team photograph. He did not have to share that with us. He could have just said: "I'm not available."

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Nishi Narayanan is a staff writer at ESPNcricinfo

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