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November 25, 2013
Jonathan Trott, the England batsman, has left the Ashes tour with a stress-related illness that he has been coping with for several years and will not return for the remainder of the series.
Trott departed Brisbane on Sunday night after England's 381-run defeat in the first Test at the Gabba. He fell twice for low scores against the short-pitched bowling of Mitchell Johnson and his ability to combat fast bowling came under heavy scrutiny.
"I don't feel it is right that I'm playing knowing I'm not 100% and I cannot currently operate at the level I have reached in the past," Trott said in a statement. "My priority now is to take a break from cricket to focus on my recovery."
England have no immediate plans to call up a replacement.
The England team management have been aware for the bulk of Trott's international career that he has been struggling with a stress-related condition and suggested there were no indications that he was under any additional strain as he entered the first Test in Brisbane.
Flower and ECB managing director Hugh Morris spoke to him on the third evening of the Brisbane Test, within hours of his second-innings dismissal, and a mutual decision was quickly made that he needed to return home.
England are not ruling Trott returning to international cricket at a later date, as he has successfully managed the condition over several years, but at 32 his England career might logically be at an end.
Morris said Trott would be given as much time as he needed to recover. "Jonathan Trott is an incredibly talented cricketer who has proven himself time and again for England," he said. "Cricket is unimportant now, all that matters is that Jonathan is given time, support and space to recover."
Flower said: "Trotty has been struggling with a stress-related conditions for some time and has managed it very successfully. He's been a brilliant international batsman for England and hopefully he will continue to be a brilliant international batsman for England in the future.
"But he needs time away from this environment for a while, time with his family, time to reassess and spend some quiet time with his family. This isn't the type of environment for that type of rest and recuperation that he requires.
"I have been aware that Jonathan struggled with these things from our first contact as player and coach. It is something that has always fluctuated. I have the utmost respect for Jonathan as a bloke and a cricketer - a really successful international cricketer. I am lucky that I have been coach while he has been our no 3. He has been an absolute rock for us."
Under the management of Duncan Fletcher and more recently Flower, England have cultivated a highly professional, motivated and taut team environment that has reaped some outstanding on-field results, including the retention of the Ashes through three consecutive series, temporary ownership of the world No. 1 Test ranking and victory in the 2010 World T20 in the Caribbean.
However, some might suggest it has taken a toll on cricketers at times across the era, despite a large backroom staff covering many areas of a cricketer's physical and mental well-being.
Trott is the third England cricketer to depart a tour with a stress-related illness in recent years. The opener Marcus Trescothick left the 2005-06 India tour and the 2006-07 Ashes tour of Australia before the first Test in Brisbane, while the left-arm spinner Michael Yardy flew home from the 2011 World Cup. Neither cricketer has played for England again.
England's management have insisted that Trott's departure has nothing to do with the comments delivered by Australia's opening batsman David Warner during the Test when Warner pointedly questioned his appetite for fast bowling. To draw such a distinction would be entirely simplistic.
Morris was at pains to state: "I want to be really clear on this: Jonathan has managed a stress-related illness for a period of time. It is not down to any particular incident over the last few days."
Flower echoed that made in his press conference although the England team director was highly critical of Warner's remarks. "We've been on tour for about a month and he's had it ups and downs through that month and it's not directly related," he said.
Nevertheless, Flower did not flinch from general criticism of Warner - responding on one occasion to the suggestion that Warner was "ignorant" of the situation by suggesting it was a very good choice of word.
"I would also say that I also think players commenting about fellow professionals in the media is disrespectful. On this occasion he has got that terribly wrong. I think we set different standards to that, and one of the reasons we don't like commenting on opposition players is that we don't know what's going on in their dressing room and private lives.
"Competition on the field is fine and perfectly acceptable but having players comment on fellow professionals on the international circuit, I think he overstepped the line.
"It is a competitive environment - two proud nations trying to win an Ashes series - and that rivalry is exciting, but we also have a responsibility to behave in a certain way. Whether we like it or not, our leaders must be role models.
"The game must be played in a certain spirit, it must be competitive but like most things in life there is a balance to be had. All of us have that responsibility."
David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. Daniel Brettig is an assistant editorFeeds: David Hopps
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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