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Marcus Trescothick: 'I still work on myself, but it is a much better place than where I was 15 years ago'

England assistant coach reflects on mental health journey that began in Multan on 2005-06 tour

Marcus Trescothick is able to tour again in his role as England assistant coach  •  Getty Images

Marcus Trescothick is able to tour again in his role as England assistant coach  •  Getty Images

The Multan Cricket Stadium has not changed much since Marcus Trescothick was last here in 2005. The vast expanses beyond the ground remain as empty, while the inside has been refreshed without losing its enclosed, hot-box qualities. Full to the brim, it will be raucously loud, especially if Pakistan can put one on England in the second Test to square this series.
The nets, Trescothick says, are as they were. As for the pitch, well he is expecting much of the same from the opening Test match of the 2005-06 series: "It did spin, and it did reverse going into day four or five. It was a Pakistan pitch you expected back then. I think this one will play similar, it might be good for a day or so but it might break up and take more spin."
Little might have changed here in 17 years, but the fact Trescothick is on this tour as England's assistant coach shows plenty has for him. It was that tour of Pakistan that Trescothick believes triggered his depression and eventually saw him finish up as an international cricketer a year later.
It began well when, as stand-in captain for the injured Michael Vaughan, he scored 193 (a 12th of 13 Test hundreds) in the first innings of the Multan Test. It was a strong response to Pakistan's first effort, helping England to a lead of 144, though it would eventually flip to a 22-run defeat and eventually a 2-0 series loss. Sadly for Trescothick, that first day with the bat was as good as it got for him.
On the evening of day two, news came through that his father-in-law had fallen off a ladder and suffered a serious head injury. The next evening, his wife, Hayley, asked him to come home. Bound by a sense of duty, Trescothick stayed, evening captaining the ODI series that followed. It was during the latter that Hayley's grandfather also passed away. Upon returning at Christmas, his guilt was exacerbated by the fact his eight-month-old daughter did not recognise him.
That snowballed into mental health issues that saw him unable to tour India and Australia with England, and pull out of a pre-season camp to Dubai with Somerset, and remains something he continues to deal with. But the progress over the years has been encouraging, allowing him to assume a year-round role with the Test side. Standing on the outfield having helped oversee England's final practice before the second Test begins on Friday, the way he speaks about how the last couple of years have been for him is heartening.
"It is great," he says of his mental wellbeing at present. "I remember [the effects of the 2005 tour] and I talked about it a lot. Parts of touring I loved doing, even to parts of the world that were tough. Pakistan and India are different, tougher types of tours but I still loved it.
"With the illness and struggling with anxiety it made it hard to enjoy those tours. Since that point I can get back on the road and enjoying it like it used to be because it is great. We have good times in the team room, eating together every night, playing a bit of golf when you can. Chilling out together it is very much what I used to expect from touring. It has taken a journey and a period of time, I still work at it, I still work on myself on various bits and pieces but it is a much better place than where I was 15 years ago."
His memories of the match itself are still fresh, and the annoyance at how the result slipped away from England on the final day just as raw. Especially given the expectation on the team after the high of the 2005 Ashes.
"We chased, what 190 [198] was it, and got 170 [175]? Off the back of where we had been and going into that we all felt really confident it was going to be a walk in the park. Danish Kaneria got wickets and Shoaib Akhtar mopped up the tail. When you have a Shoaib in your attack, he continued on in the rest of the series, you have someone who can turn a game on its head and mop things up pretty quick. We were disappointed. It really hurt us going into last two games as it made us realise we were a bit more fallible than we thought in these conditions. The rest is history. We did not perform well enough."
There are some parallels between Trescothick's group then and this one now. Primarily the sense of momentum, though that side were much longer in the tooth. And in many ways, they serve as a reminder for the current generation not only to push on but to enjoy where things are at right now.
"The difference here is that going back to 2005 that team was coming to the end. We all thought it was going to carry on but it fell away pretty quickly whereas this team is only getting started. It is the start of a good long journey we are going to have for a period of time when we are going to have some exciting cricket and you will see some young players really flourish and stand out, ones on the up considerably at this stage.
"For a couple of years before pinnacle of 2005 we built a different style of play, a more aggressive style. We knew we had to come up against Australia and play in that fashion. But scoring at 6.7 an over for 130 overs in a Test match is ridiculous. We have pushed it again. The boundaries have been opened, they have moved on the style of play and what they can achieve and it has gone away from 3.5 an over being good. I remember the Edgbaston game when we got 400 in 80 overs and it was 'that's incredible.' These boys nearly got 600 in a day. Clearly they are finding more opportunities and different ways of pushing the boundaries."
As someone who throws regularly to the batters in the nets, he knows just how good this crop are. He occasionally wears a helmet and has even been hit in the chest by Liam Livingstone, of all people. Thankfully, it was "not too hard". From his view, he notices the fundamentals have not changed much: balance, technique and head position. The mindset, however, is something that has clearly shifted, likewise the indulgence of players' natural attacking verve.
These are all characteristics Trescothick had, by the way. At his best, he was a destructive left-hander who would never let bowlers settle, picking the right moments to shift the scoring along. That his style was akin to the modern-day wedding of red- and white-ball skills is evident by the fact he was the No. 1-ranked ODI batter in June 2003, and was as high as sixth in the Test rankings in November 2005. Thus, it is no surprise his response when asked if he would have enjoyed slotting into this team comes almost immediately: "I would have loved to."
"Any batter would have loved this apart from probably Paul Collingwood. We would have loved this environment because it is so free. It is enjoyable, the methods and way talking aout it in the changing room is exciting. You want to come out here every day, walk out with them and have the opportunity to bat. It's still great watching from the balcony and what they do."

Vithushan Ehantharajah is an associate editor at ESPNcricinfo