England news March 17, 2014

'Disappointment' at Vaughan's comments


The Professional Cricketers' Association (PCA) chief executive, Angus Porter, has expressed "disappointment" at Michael Vaughan's comments regarding Jonathan Trott after the former England captain said he felt "conned" by the explanation given for Trott's early return from the Ashes.

At the time when Trott left immediately after the Brisbane Test it was termed to be for a "stress-related illness". The batsman has this week said - in his first interviews given to Sky Sports, ESPNcricinfo and the Evening Standard - that he was suffering from burnout rather than any form of depression which Vaughan has taken to mean as being "not mental" issues.

"I was so tired, I couldn't think, I couldn't concentrate and I couldn't bat," Trott told ESPNcricinfo. "It was as if my processing speed was slower. My answer has always been to work harder. I can see that was a mistake now."

In a strongly-worded column in the Daily Telegraph, Vaughan wrote that players in the England dressing room and the opposition will now think that Trott did a "runner" from Australia when the going got tough.

"I feel a little bit conned we were told Jonathan Trott's problems in Australia were a stress-related illness he had suffered for years.

"He was obviously not in a great place but he was struggling for cricketing reasons and not mental, and there is a massive difference. There is a danger we are starting to use stress-related illness and depression too quickly as tags for players under pressure."

Vaughan was also critical of Trott's use of words "crazy" and "nutcase" during his interview with Sky Sports.

"He then completely disrespected anybody who has gone through depression and mental illness by using words such as 'nutcase' or 'crazy'. When I hear players talking about burn-out, I suspect it is an excuse. You never see players retiring from sport and talking about burn-out when they are playing well.

"What Trott will have to accept is that players in his own dressing room and in the opposition will look at him and think at the toughest of times he did a runner. He did not fight and got on a plane and went home. It is harsh but that is the reality."

Porter said that the comments were a reminder of the work still needed to be done not only with sport but in the wider society. "I'm disappointed in the comments by Michael Vaughan," he told ESPNcricinfo. "We all need to understand that there is a spectrum of mental illness and every case is different. It's a reminder that there is still much to understand and learn, I think across society as a whole."

Porter did, though, concede that some of the words chosen by Trott could be seen as "clumsy" although believes they were used to describe people's possible view of him rather than his view of how mental illness is perceived.

The ECB's role in how they explained the situation and briefed when Trott flew home has also been questioned, but Porter was sure they "did their very best to explain a difficult situation in a sensitive and sympathetic manner."

Another former England player, Matthew Hoggard, who has spoken openly about suffering from depression towards the end of his international career echoed Vaughan's thoughts.

"Very interesting thoughts from Michael Vaughan on Jonathan Trott," Hoggard posted on Twitter. "As a whole I would have to agree with him. When Trott came back from Australia citing stress-related issues I think we all automatically thought of depression.

"Having first-hand experience of the horrible illness to hear Jonathan use the words nutcase and crazy is so disrespectful and coming from a guy that cited mental health issues as the reason he came home astonishing."

A leading mental-health charity, Mind, emphasised that there are no simple answers when it comes to stress, and its various guises, and that there remains some way to go to create an environment of understanding.

"We all have mental health and, as with physical health, it's essential we are attuned to the signs and symptoms that can be indicative of underlying problems," Paul Farmer, the chief executive, told ESPNcricinfo. "Stress is not a medical diagnosis, but severe stress that continues for a long time may lead to depression, anxiety, or more severe mental health problems.

"Within the world of elite sport, there is undeniable pressure to deliver outstanding performances time after time. There is little room for error and failure to deliver can cost a player their position on a team. In turn there is an atmosphere where asking for help can be perceived as a weakness and speaking out about mental health problems a taboo. Cases like the tragic death of (footballer) Robert Enke show just how serious the effects of this stigma can be.

"It has been encouraging to see governing bodies, including the PCA, start to address problems within their own sports in recent years. However, the confusion and language that has surrounded today's story shows just how far there is to go.

"One in four people experience a mental health problem every year and the sporting world is no exception, however it is clear that we're still a very long way off the point where mental health can be discussed openly, honestly and with understanding."

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • John on March 19, 2014, 23:34 GMT

    @AshesErnie on (March 17, 2014, 19:44 GMT) Regardless of what you believe re Vaughan - I don't recall him playing for England again after that SA tour. I think Vaughan is more questioning ECB for leading us to believe it was something different (at least not as severe) from what it was and then Trott's use of the words crazy and nutcase in light of the profile on mental health issues. I wonder how Tres (a regular pundit) feels when Trott uses these terms?

  • John on March 19, 2014, 23:32 GMT

    @Mikey160 on (March 18, 2014, 21:17 GMT) Swann quit the tour as he felt he had nothing left to give and never let anyone else think anything different. He had his share of folk saying he was a quitter etc. It was kind of a brave decision in not pretending it was anything else but the fact that he felt he had nothing left to offer.

    Trott - for me - was different as we were led to think he could be in a real dark place and he received so much sympathy from fans/players/pundits many of who (maybe Vaughan included) feared for his well being. And a few months later he is talking jovially using the words Crazy and Nutcase - which IMO is at best insensitive. I don't think it was so much the fact he thought Trott did a runner but the fact that he felt he miked the sympathy card whereas Swann was straight down the middle

  • Ian on March 18, 2014, 22:45 GMT

    It is impertinent to make unverified links, I realise, but in the 1970s Geoffrey Boycott absented himself from the test team for reasons that may have been similar to those suggested by Trott.

    That said, for two cricketers to absent themselves unilaterally from the same test tour is surely unprecedented. What are we to make of that?

  • John on March 18, 2014, 22:28 GMT

    @Jo Salvador on (March 17, 2014, 19:46 GMT) Don't have an issue with Trott. More an issue with Porter for questioning Vaughan over his comms. I think Trott will now become a sitting target for verbals from opposition players

    @Front-Foot_lunge on (March 17, 2014, 19:27 GMT) I'm sure that "As an Australian fan" I can speak for everyone in saying how humbled and delighted we are with your apologies. Well done.

    @smithy.nottingham on (March 18, 2014, 0:05 GMT) I like Trott but I for me him using the the words Crazy and Nutcase affects the sympathy level I have for him. If he was in that dark a place I doubt he'd use those words. Either way it seems insensitive

  • Mike on March 18, 2014, 21:17 GMT

    So Doctor Vaughan is now an expert on medical matters. Can someone explain why he thinks Trott did a runner while when Swann walked away from England in Aus Vaughan says this was a brave decision.

    Where's his consistency.

  • Sonu on March 18, 2014, 17:56 GMT

    now i wonder how the indian players lyk sachin performed under such high mental pressures....1 of the reasons y he is the greayest of them all ever

  • Jason on March 18, 2014, 14:10 GMT

    @cloudmess, I saw the program you mention, it was very enlightening, especially in regards to Depression, however Vaughan isnt doing himself any favours by stating that being mentally exhausted/burnt out is not a stress related illness.

    I myself have suffered mental exhaustion on a couple of cases, usually because I pushed myself too hard, on a couple of occasions it led to stress and very nearly to clinical depression, and the only way to reduce it was to walk away from the job I had.

    In the End Trott did the right thing for himself, and thats all that matters, it doesnt matter what vaughan or anyone else thinks.

  • ESPN on March 18, 2014, 13:36 GMT

    I had a go at Warner for his comments, maybe he was right.

  • David on March 18, 2014, 13:25 GMT

    Given the savagery of some of the comments being made about Trott, I'm assuming these are being made by people who, in their own various lines of work, have had the hard work and guts to become one of the best and most successful in their country at what they do?

  • David on March 18, 2014, 12:43 GMT

    I don't agree with those who say Vaughan is trying to grab the headlines. He once did a programme on mental illness in sportsmen, it's a subject he knows something about. I think he was concerned with sportsmen confusing clinical depression with being tired and out of form. The danger is in future no distinction is made between a player who is burnt out and needs a break, and a player who is genuinely ill and needs treatment. However I think every player has the right to ask to be left out if they don't feel they are 100% fit for the job in hand, which is all that Trott did. Forget all this machismo rubbish about not being enough of a man. It benefits no-one if a team fields half-fit players.

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