November 26, 2013

The Ashes 2013-14

Trott case shines a light on stress and sledging

In the Independent, Kevin Garside considers the way Jonathan Trott's departure has shone a light on the culture of sledging.

He wasn't to know that Trott was torn by personal crisis, but at least the England batsman's departure has shone a light on a thug culture that has nothing to do with competitive spirit. Armed with a forthright sense of what so many believe Aussieness to be, Warner felt it acceptable to belittle and embarrass an opponent on the field with the tacit understanding that this falls within the limits of legitimate behaviour.

Also in the Independent, Angus Fraser argues that it is surprising that, when criticism cuts so deep, more players do not succumb to such illnesses.

Everyone is as bad as each other. Indeed, I do not remember many England supporters showing a great deal of sympathy to Mitchell Johnson when he was going through a difficult period a few years ago. Highlighting his shortcomings in song and humiliating him was viewed as great fun. It was irrelevant that it nearly ended Johnson's career and resulted in him spending lots of time seeing a psychologist.

John Leicester, in the New Zealand Herald, explains how stress-related illnesses can affect anyone and believes that the best decision was made in allowing Jonathan Trott to return home.

That candor helped demonstrate that there's nothing here to be ashamed of. Talk in sports that athletes should just "man-up" and tough-out problems is dangerous, macho hogwash. Depression, anxiety and other mental health issues don't discriminate: they'll afflict anyone. Thankfully, sports are recognizing that, too.

Steve James in the Telegraph notes the debt of thanks that players these days owe Marcus Trescothick for making public his struggles several years ago.

Trott is ill, and it will have taken huge courage to admit that. Last year I interviewed two cricketers who were admitting publicly for the first time that they had suffered with mental illness, and it was impossible to understate the fortitude it took them to do so.

The former ABC cricket commentator Glenn Mitchell, who suffered a breakdown in 2011, offers a personal perspective at the Roar.

For a long time such public utterances from those within the sporting world were viewed as a sign of weakness.Too often mental health issues carry with them a significant stigma that is associated with weakness which, in essence, is the antithesis of what many people believe top flight sport is all about.

In the Guardian, Mark Rice-Oxley considers whether the nature of cricket itself is to blame.

Does cricket have a problem? Is there something about the game, the combination of luck, bloody-mindedness, unpredictability and caprice that can drive a person over the edge? Or is it the other way around: that the kind of people who make it to the top of this game are the kind of intense, driven individuals whose very self-obsession makes them more vulnerable to mental illness?

Also in the Guardian, Mike Selvey considers various questions, including why Trott was allowed to tour in the first place.

Simon Hughes in the Telegraph and Vic Marks in the Guardian both look at who might bat at No.3 for England in the absence of Trott, while Scyld Berry in the Telegraph notes that even Len Hutton suffered with stress on an Ashes tour of Australia.

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