England news March 13, 2014

Trott feared career was over


'I would've been a passenger in Australia' - Trott

Jonathan Trott has admitted he feared he would never play cricket again after he left the Ashes tour of Australia.

Trott left the tour after the first Test in Brisbane suffering from what was described by the ECB as a "stress related illness." Now, in an exclusive interview with ESPNcricinfo - his first since the incident - he has spoken of the exhaustion, rather than depression, that led to his decision to return home and the guilt he continues to feel for leaving his team-mates on what turned out to be one of the toughest tours in England's history.

"At the time I left the dressing room, I thought that was the end," Trott said. "I thought I'd never play for England again. I thought I'd never play for Warwickshire again. I thought I was walking away from everything I had ever worked towards.

"Andy Flower was clearly very upset. His voice broke as he told the team the news. Then I think it was Stuart Broad came and gave me a hug. I think all the guys did. They couldn't have been more supportive. Most of them had no idea what was going on."

Trott was to have played his 50th Test in Adelaide but, over the course of the previous six months, he had become more and more exhausted by a combination of on and off-field problems that left him unable to concentrate or remain calm.

"It began to seem impossible," Trott said. "I had set myself this unrealistic scale of success and I was beating myself up trying to live up to it.

"The more people said 'Oh, you'll be great against Australia' the worse it was. I averaged 90 against them so, in my head, I needed to score 180 runs a game to sustain that. And that meant, if I made 100, I was still left thinking, 'Oh no, I need to score another 80 in the second innings just to break even.' I had set myself unsustainable standards.

"We had put so much into the Champions Trophy and to lose the final from the position that we were in was a huge setback. And then the knowledge that we had 10 Ashes Tests in succession… it just seemed it would never end.

"I felt guilty [leaving the Ashes tour]," he said. "I still feel guilty.

"I was there for the good times. I should have been there for the hard times. I hated seeing what they went through in Australia. At my best, I know I could have made a difference. But even below my best, I felt I should be there to share the experience. We've shared a lot together."

Trott denied that his struggles against Mitchell Johnson's pace were relevant to his decision to return home.

"He's a very good bowler," Trott said. "You've seen lots of batsmen struggle against him. In normal circumstances I would have been fine. I'm not saying I would have scored lots of runs, but I'd have gone out there with confidence.

"But I couldn't think. I couldn't concentrate. I couldn't stand still or watch the ball. Everything I had practised went out of the window. In those circumstances, any problem you have with your technique - and when I'm out of form I tend to fall over to the off side - is magnified and you saw me walking towards him, stepping across my stumps and trying to hit everything into the leg side. It wasn't that I was scared or anything, it was just the result of a cluttered mind. It would have been the same against any bowler."

Now, however, having enjoyed a prolonged break from the game, Trott is looking forward to returning to cricket at the start of the domestic season and hopes that he can force his way back into the England set-up for the start of the international summer.

"This is the longest I've ever gone without picking up a bat," Trott says. "I mean the longest since I was about three years old. I've been four months without cricket and it's been fine.

"Of course I want to play for England again. But it would be silly to look too far ahead. If I do make it back, I will just take it one series at a time and one tour at a time. I'll get the balance right between rest and preparation and I'll try and enjoy it. That's been the best thing to come out of this, really. Cricket meant so much to me. Too much. But now I know there is life outside cricket."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • amit on March 18, 2014, 8:46 GMT

    @Kingman75 - If that's what you honestly think, you really have not followed Sachin his entire career.

    As for Trott, listening to the latest comments, I feel the same as I did at the start... He bottled it. Eng doesn't need him and should show him the door for good. Plenty of other talented young players that can take his place.

  • Kenso on March 17, 2014, 4:04 GMT

    Interesting comments from Michael Vaughan about this in the news today. We were all led to believe there was some kind of mental issue or depression which we now know is not the case. Just exhaustion and being out of form. There are two issues with this. 1. If it was just exhaustion and being out of form then is this really an excuse to abandon team mates in an hour of need? 2. Doesnt the fact that he was able to hide behind a serious illness belittle the seriousness of depression and those that suffer from it. The article also points out the last time Trott had such an issue was prior to facing a strong SA attack in 2009. You cant build a career hiding from the best opposition and dominating the average ones.

  • Simon on March 16, 2014, 12:00 GMT

    I hope this can be a watershed in picking players for the England team. Trott should never be near the ODI team for two reasons, it is more like T20 than test match cricket, and because we dont want him to burn out. He is probably the second player on the test team, and if they can leave it that way we will have no more exhaustion, just a long a fruitful career. Case in point is also Stokes and Root. They are seen as the wonder players for all formats, but are currently only suited to perhaps one format (ODI), and should really be given time to develop into the players they might be. We have to get more clinical in our selection, the ODI is a proving ground for test players, but only in certain positions. T20 is a different animal altogether. If we just have Trott as our test No.3 I think all will be well with him, but play him in everything and this is what you will get. The selectors need to mirror the physical exhaustion of the bowlers with the mental exhaustion of the batsman.

  • Prasanna on March 16, 2014, 9:07 GMT

    @Kingman75 , from whatever i know of indian cricket, Dravid has played a hell a lot of game-changing innings compared to Tendulkar. And Laxman as well. So you could as well be right - They did as good as him and at times bettered him. So wondering why they haven't been given the sort of credit that Tendulkar has always been given - just my thought.

  • Dummy4 on March 16, 2014, 8:41 GMT

    Test cricket will definitely miss him.He is a batsman with technique and temperament. His personal health is important and he has every right to flag it up. However,I wonder under high pressure situations if players start disintergrate like this what the teams are going to do about that. Isn't inernational cricket all about handling pressure.This is not good news, if others also try to do this in future, when battered from all corners.

  • John on March 16, 2014, 7:47 GMT

    @damnhomie_1 on (March 15, 2014, 3:25 GMT), KP is finished as an England player. Whether or not he's the best batsman England have available and whether or not he was treated unfairly by the ECB, they're not bringing him back now. They knew that there were going to be tough times ahead when they made the decision to axe him so they're hardly going to U-turn when those times arrive. Would it really help the team in the long term to have him back in the short term anyway? I have no more knowledge than anyone else about what actually happened between KP and the England team and management but I'm quite sure that there was far more to it than many want to believe. The decision to axe him is not one that would have been taken lightly, particularly after having reintegrated him once not too long ago. Even if they did bring him back now, how uncomfortable would it be in the dressing room for everyone? It's just not happening so get over it.

  • John on March 16, 2014, 7:42 GMT

    A lot of people have commented here and elsewhere about this sort of problem seeming to affect England cricketers more than those from other countries. It's correct that it seems that way but I wonder whether those people have ever considered that maybe it's just that England cricketers are more willing to admit that there's a problem than others. I don't know either way but it's just as likely. There have been all sorts of cricketers from all over who have either failed to live up to expectations or lost all semblance of form and possibly ended their careers prematurely and any number of those may have had similar psychological issues, perhaps without even knowing.

    As for Tendulkar, I think that a lot of people give him too much credit but, by the same token, a lot of people are way too hard on him. He was an exceptionally talented batsman but not the god that some want to believe. I do respect him for living with the pressure he did though. It's not something I would relish.

  • Bunnie on March 16, 2014, 5:33 GMT

    @FRpunk, you must be kidding. Tendulkar should have dropped himself. Did nothing for the last three years of his career and couldn't handle the pressure of scoring that elusive century, he had to do it against Bangladesh and they still lost. Basically, it's a myth. Tendulkar never handled the pressure of the crowd and media well. Others had to shield him from things like the captaincy (Ganguly), facing the new ball (Dravidian and Sehwag), etc. Those players deserve just as much if not more credit for the supposed billion expectations.

  • Dummy4 on March 16, 2014, 0:27 GMT

    Yet again, comments about Sachin on a article that has nothing to do with him, or Indian cricket. There are many articles about Sachin which you can comment on, why feel the need to compare him to Trott, of course there is no comparison! I wish Trotty the best of luck but those wishes will not reach him via these comments as the moderation on Cricinfo appears to have gone completely insane.

  • Ali on March 15, 2014, 20:44 GMT

    they dropped KP.... that is the only reason, they will draft Trott back into the team...

    "to fill the void" ....

    Poor guy, if I were him, I would not even attempt to return and try to replace KP...

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