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Trott feared career was over

George Dobell

March 13, 2014

Comments: 47 | Text size: A | A
'I would've been a passenger in Australia' - Trott

Jonathan Trott trudges back to the pavilion , England v Australia, 3rd Investec Test, Old Trafford, 3rd day, August 3, 2013
'It began to seem impossible. I had set myself this unrealistic scale of success and I was beating myself up trying to live up to it' © Getty Images

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

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Mike_Tyson 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.

Posted by kensohatter 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.

Posted by Juiceoftheapple 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.

Posted by PrasPunter 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.

Posted by   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.

Posted by jmcilhinney 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.

Posted by jmcilhinney 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.

Posted by Kingman75 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.

Posted by   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.

Posted by Rally_Windies 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...

Posted by   on (March 15, 2014, 20:18 GMT)

@damnhomie_1: Of course he's history. Irrespective of his record the ECB will NEVER allow him to be picked again. It happened with Gower years ago and it'll happen with him - upset the "establishment" and that's your lot. Completely wrong of course but that's English cricket administrators - if they don't like the cut of your jib they will get you sooner or later.

Posted by FRpunk on (March 15, 2014, 18:31 GMT)

I can`t Imagine what Tendulkar must have Felt like . no Disrespect to Trott , He is a Brilliant Batsman but after Reading this my Respect for Tendulkar grows even more .

Imagine the Pressure Sachin Felt , The People Came to see him , They wanted a Century everytime , and at times the Fans would careless about India`s Victory and Concentrate only on Sachin . Such was the Pressure on that Man . Enormous , Huge . Trott is lucky he does has to carry on the Expectations of 1 billion people with him every time he comes out to Bat .

Posted by nickduck on (March 15, 2014, 16:09 GMT)

Trott's career should be over. What's the point letting him back in the team when he will do a runner again as soon as Mitch Johnson turns up with the Aussies next year. Lack of moral fibre I'm afraid.

Posted by vallavarayar on (March 15, 2014, 11:57 GMT)

Strange how only players from England succumb to these high profile quittings. I am not saying other countries don't have these cases. But they seem to be better at weeding out these mentally unstable players before they attain the highest level.

Posted by android_user on (March 15, 2014, 9:18 GMT)

Auatralia vs Smith, Kallis, Trott, Prior, Peterson, Flower. What was the one about sinking ships?

Posted by foozball on (March 15, 2014, 7:32 GMT)

Why on earth was this guy picked for the tour? Patently not up to the task of Test cricket, but figured he could just go through the motions and it would be ok?

Don't think cricket supporters will ever hear the full truth about this situation. Can't say I'll ever think much of Trott ever again - probably about as much as I think of the English selectors! And with that in mind, I look forward to seeing him reacquaint himself with the 5 day game. Should be a blast... for whoever's bowling!

Posted by damnhomie_1 on (March 15, 2014, 3:25 GMT)

@ Ian Burnett: KP is neither finished nor he's history. If you don't believe me just read this latest article on Cricinfo itself - www.espncricinfo.com/west-indies-v-england-2013-14/content/current/story/728049.html

He's still the best player English have and they are struggling to replace him. By the way, I am an Aussie and loved the Ashes drubbing, its just my unbiased opinion about KP and the unfair treatment by management.

Posted by   on (March 14, 2014, 23:51 GMT)

Ran away under pressure to save his average

Posted by Sorcerer on (March 14, 2014, 23:07 GMT)

He makes it seem like him leaving the team in the middle of the thrashing Down Under was some heroic feat..

Posted by jb633 on (March 14, 2014, 22:10 GMT)

cont... KP brought a lot of it upon himself but bar a few great innings in 2012, I felt his batting in general was on the wane post 2010 and it seemed the management had tried to take out the natural flare that was always such a part of his game. The way they handled Finn was frankly disgraceful and i said so at the time. To come out publicly and announce to the world that their 23 year old is too expensive (despite being series leading wicket taker) was such poor management. Ok so he did go for runs, but the management should always back their players publicly. Announcing to the world that he had been dropped because he leaked runs did two things a) force the lad to change his natural game b) hand an incentive over to the opposition who would get after him immediately with the knowledge he was going to be under pressure if he went at 4 rpo (regardless of wickets). It was no surprise Haddin et al went after him from ball one at Trent Bridge.

Posted by jb633 on (March 14, 2014, 22:04 GMT)

@mirandola, I agree with you and you raise a good point. I think it was clear that the management had become incredibly stifling for the players under Flower and they could only take it for so long. The way that Ashes side crumbled shows there was something drastically wrong with the the set up and the nature of that dressing room. Personally I think Flower was brilliant from taking us out of the mire and into the world game. We were never a great side, far from it, but we were competitive in all 3 formats for 3-4 years. I think Flower instilled discipline and professionalism, which was exactly what was required following the Moores/KP saga. However, being overly professional and removing the human feel from the set up cost us in the end and created an environment where the players could not perform. The perfect examples for me are KP and Finn. Both are guys who strayed slightly from the Flower way of playing the game and the management, for different reasons, could handle neither.

Posted by android_user on (March 14, 2014, 20:10 GMT)

Let Trott play against Bangla Desh, to overcome his depression. He is too good a bat to risk against top teams.

Posted by mirandola on (March 14, 2014, 19:17 GMT)

The same thing has happened with a number of players (Marcus Trescothick springs to mind, along with Swann), and it's hard to pinpoint causes - Trott is a talented batsman, but somehow the imperatives set by the current England setup seems to have produced pressures that some players find hard to live with. It doesn't seem to happen so much with other national sides, so maybe England need to look deep into their managerial/coaching strategy; a numbers game pure and simple will never be 'cricket' - arguably the best cricketers ever (Trumper, SF Barnes, Bradman, Sobers) weren't expected to live on a treadmill and 'produce' continually, day in, day out; unrealistic expectations produce unrealistic situations where mere human beings get ground up in the wheels.

Posted by Jimmyrob83 on (March 14, 2014, 19:10 GMT)

Something about this doesn't add up. I'll leave it at that.

Posted by   on (March 14, 2014, 18:04 GMT)

All teams that have a solid number 3 do well in Test cricket Amla for Saffers, Dravid/Pujara for India, Sangakkara for Srilanka and Trott for England.

They really missed him in all of the Tests, and even ODI's... hope he makes a comeback soon and re-energizes the English team.

Posted by   on (March 14, 2014, 17:15 GMT)

@damnhomie_1: KP is history. The past. Finished. drop it...

Posted by ArthursAshes on (March 14, 2014, 16:29 GMT)

@YorkshirePudding I gave Trueman as one example. He actually missed a lot of Test cricket as there were times when he wasn't picked, 67 Tests over 14 years. Trueman's total career was 20 years not 30.

The overseas tours were often longer, the 1958-59 Ashes series in Australia lasted from October to end Feb. 20 matches. Of course he didn't play any one day cricket as that started when his career finished. Like many players in England he would play a full domestic season between home Tests. England players today play little or no domestic cricket. How much cricket has Trott played each year since becoming an England player? Very little county cricket. England players are contracted to mainly be available for England.

My point was once in the England team it is more of a pressure pot now, but international players certainly don't play more cricket now than those in the past, although there is now a lot of one day or smash bang T20 stuff.

Posted by android_user on (March 14, 2014, 16:22 GMT)

trott definitely deserves a second go

Posted by dabbadubba on (March 14, 2014, 16:12 GMT)

any ideas on How do cricketers from India manage ?

Posted by squidhead on (March 14, 2014, 15:57 GMT)

Trotty! Aussie here: Just get back mate, as much time as you need, you're too good to let that be the end of it. Now, I can't in all honesty wish you the best of luck, not against us at least, but...well, you know. It'd be real good to see you back though.

Posted by Insightful2013 on (March 14, 2014, 15:56 GMT)

Good on you Trottie, do whatever is best for you. You're a brave man and should be admired. Only you walk in your shoes and you shouldn't even remotely consider what others think about your decisions. You knew how you felt and also the consequences of your decisions. You did not let anyone down and proved that you are in control of knowing when to fold. Best of luck to you, mate! You should hold your head up high because if you had suffered an injury, emotional or physical and you didn't produce, you would have been discarded, wantonly. You have precedent, as evidenced recently. Anyone who presumes to judge, because of your decision, is not your friend and and would have contributed negatively to your life anyway. Hope to see you back soon and hopefully spearheading a campaign, highlighting the rigours of yours and others experiences. You are not weakened by this , in actuality, you have been made much stronger! Speedy recovery!

Posted by   on (March 14, 2014, 15:56 GMT)

All the Best Trotty Boy! You are gonna run like a stallion once again. You have been man enough to admit your problems. And, tell me one person in life who doesn't go through a lean patch! It's brave on your part to have weathered the storm and taken the tough route back-I wish you all the luck from my side of the world, and hope to see you among the runs once again!

Best wishes-Go, get'em boy :-)

Posted by YorkshirePudding on (March 14, 2014, 15:35 GMT)

@ArthursAshes, what you forget is that while they played more FC games, they spent less time touring and a lot of time at home, Of tremans 67 tests, he played 47 at home, with 8 in Aus, 4 in NZ and 8 in in the WI's.

Trotts 50 tests have been played evenly 25 home and 25 aways. In addition to that hes also played 67 ODI's. In total since 2000 Trott has played 258 FC/Tests, which is an average of 19 games a season.

When you look at possible days played, assume FC games are 3 full days, tests are 5 full days, Trueman played 2162 days cricket in a career of 30 years. which around 73 days cricket a year.

In 14 years trott has played 1383 days cricket, thats an average of 99 days cricket per year, so Trott has played around 35% more cricket than Trueman did.

Posted by damnhomie_1 on (March 14, 2014, 15:03 GMT)

Isn't this exactly what KP was complaining about couple of years back when everyone was quick to banish him??? Poor bloke just tried to manage himself by trying to retire from one dayers only and hell broke loose....English board, media anyone listening ?

Posted by pull_shot on (March 14, 2014, 14:05 GMT)

Just imagine his stress if he play for india

Posted by   on (March 14, 2014, 13:56 GMT)

Welcome back to cricket, Trotty.

"It just seemed like it would never end." Your words should wake up many Boards. Especially the greedy ones. Who use the cricketers as machinery; which can be just switched on, whenever they want to make some MORE cash! A never ending need of theirs. Never satiating need of theirs!

As an Indian, I would like to add: "Dear Dhoni & mates; please watch out; your "masters" will not!"

Posted by dr.shafikhan on (March 14, 2014, 13:46 GMT)

As a doctor i can very well understand the mental and physical exhaustion in every profession,but more conspicuously in sports. it is the stamina and hard work which keeps an international player play and perform consistently.but for me a time comes when a body and mind definitely needs rest for a while.( OVERWORK KILLS) .if we look superstitiously even , players around the world go unfit, out of form and little niggles and many more once in while must. these are the very excuses of the body and mind for wanting a rest. some players(people) are mentally strong and robust , so they carry form and fitness a marathon time, others dnt make it and even loss their careers because of theses unwanted interruptions,. stay blessed all

Posted by ArthursAshes on (March 14, 2014, 13:44 GMT)

Too much cricket? Probably at international level, especially if you happen to play all of the Tests, one day and T20 games, but players in the past certainly played far more cricket of the longer variety. Test matches, full tours, including tour matches between Tests, and then a full county campaign between Test matches. The one day game and money has changed things and players today probably play more pressure cricket at international level. After all, England players rarely play any other type of cricket other than international games. If you get out of form you have to find it again in the most pressured arena around. It's hardly surprising that once England started losing in Australia, the players who came in having had little cricket for months largely failed.

If it was simply too much cricket then were players of years ago exhausted or stressed out but we simply never heard about it? Fred Trueman played 670 first class and Tests in 20 years, that's 33 3/5 day games a year.

Posted by real_gone_gadd on (March 14, 2014, 13:13 GMT)

Hope he doesn't get rushed back too soon - Eng should target the first Test against India for his return to give him a gradual easing through the first months of the county season.

Posted by   on (March 14, 2014, 12:56 GMT)

"It just seemed like it would never end."


Posted by BlueNoseDaz on (March 14, 2014, 12:41 GMT)

If there is one phrase throughout this interview that highlights the major problem with modern international cricket it is, "...it just seemd it would never end..." This is becoming an inceasing problem, particularly for Eng, I don't know the situation for other countries, and the ECB must now be looking at player welfare rather than chasing money by flogging the players to the verge of exhaustion.

Posted by   on (March 14, 2014, 12:40 GMT)

poor guy, seems to have devoted his entire life to cricket, with such dedication and intensity that he neglected everything else about his existence, and effectively had a breakdown... he should take it easy and as he said, there's life outside of cricket. Go back to club cricket when you're ready and have some fun with it, it's a game designed for fun, afterall.

Posted by WillDuff on (March 14, 2014, 12:16 GMT)

Good luck to him. Sounds like he's back on track.

John Curtis is right about England playing too much - as do all the Test nations. It's interesting to read Trott talk about 10 Ashes Tests stretching out ahead of him, never ending. The England and Aus Boards have a lot to answer for, risking physical and mental harm to their players. And Aus are back again summer 2015 for more of the same!

Posted by MAK123 on (March 14, 2014, 12:05 GMT)

That's the worst part about depression. One moment you feel as if everything is gone and the next, a man is as light headed and in high spirits as Trott is right now. But I agree with Trott that his lack of form or getting out to good deliveries was not due to the illness. Any batsman would have struggled against the resurgent Johnson - Aus' recent SA tour is a testament to that

Posted by pvwadekar on (March 14, 2014, 11:52 GMT)

Good for Trott, hopefully can come back into the Test team.

Posted by Thuram3 on (March 14, 2014, 11:43 GMT)

Trott is a brilliant player, I'm glad he's back, I enjoy watching him bat....

Posted by   on (March 14, 2014, 11:08 GMT)

hes a fantastic player and i hope he gets back in the team we need him and again ENGLAND PLAY FAR TOO MUCH!!

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