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January 2019



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Tresco's Troubles: Trescothick's autobiography

I borrowed Coming Back to Me by Marcus Trescothick (with Peter Hayter) from the library and read it in about five minutes. For those who don’t know, Marcus Trescothick is a former England Test cricketer, a lovely batsman on form, whose international career was wrecked by panic attacks which made it impossible for him to travel overseas to play for his country. Test cricket is *unbelievably tough*. Those guys are gladiators. It’s a brave effort to try to put on record what the poor man has been through. This is a ghosted memoir so we’re not looking for great writing or insights. It’s also, of course, full of statistics. Like any professional cricketer, Tresco can tell you exactly how many runs he scored in x match and just how y got him out in the next one.

The book arouses both pity and anger. Anger at the cruelty of the press and the ineptitude of the authorities in dealing with it. Anger that mental health problems still carry a stigma. Picture this headline: ‘Flintoff ruled out of next Test due to ankle injury.’ Routine, eh? Now this one: ‘Trescothick withdrawn from next Test due to depression and anxiety.’ Unthinkable, apparently. Which is why the authorities screwed up so badly when Trescothick returned home unexpectedly from the Indian tour which proved too much for him. A simple statement at the time would have prevented the ensuing hounding by the press and the hurtful and untrue stories about his marriage. Press statements did later refer to his 'stress-related illness'. I’m not usually keen on celebrities parading their suffering but Trescothick could have done a few people some favours by publishing his story.

It’s interesting to see what Geoffrey Boycott wrote on the subject in this Telegraph article from 2006. You’d expect him to be the 'pull yourself together, lad' type, wouldn’t you? Not at all.


Australia's Michael Slater also had some mental health problems and wasn't treated at all kindly by the rest of the team at the time.

I have to admit I do struggle a bit with the Trescothick thing. I know they play a lot of cricket today, but it really isn't like the old days, when a trip to Australia meant months and months away from family and friends, half of it on the boat. And family can accompany them today, anyway; how come his family didn't come out to Australia with him? Also, I've never really understood why he couldn't play for England during home series if travel were the problem.

It's sad that his career was shortened by his mental health problems, though, because he was a great player.
Even when his family travel with him, it doesn't help. Somerset (his country side) took part in a tournament in India not long ago, and he and his family weren't in a hotel, they were given a little bungalow in a quiet area so they could be together as a family. He still ended up having to come home early, he just couldn't cope. There's a piece in his autobiography where he described being curled in a ball by Duty Free, sobbing, at an airport, because he just couldn't bring himself to get on the plane for an England tour.

He's still a star player for Somerset, though - he'll be one of their all-time greats.
one of their all-time greats

Yes and look at Mark Ramprakesh. A great county player who somehow couldn't cut it as a Test player. Don't think the situations are the same, though.

On the tour you mention, I expect fear of the same thing happening was a major factor in making it happen. Do you detect the voice of experience here?
It's an anxiety disorder, so anticipation probably will make it worse - I'd guess it would kick-start the anxiety sooner.
I didn't know that about Slater.

Reading between the lines, I don't think Trescothick's problems were 'caused' by homesickness etc. but that he has an illness and it ws going to get him sometime. As for the not playing at home, it's argued in the book that cricket is an all or nothing matter and that players can't pick and choose which matches they'll play in (but look what Strauss has just done)! I do think they play too much cricket, though.

Luckily, he can still play for Somerset.
I heard Marcus T talking about it on the radio when his book first came out - it was incredibly brave of him, given the way the sports media handles mental health issues. I think Somerset are very good and do try to arrange things for him to minimise the risk of further problems.

Boycott can be surprising sometimes. I was really startled to hear him discussing feng shui with Aggers on the radio; he's really into it, which i'd never have expected of him.
I wish LJ would put thread comments in the right order!

I was really shocked by the way the press treated him at first, surrounding his house and making him worse. It's hard for a big tough chap to admit this sort of problem so I do think he was brave.

Boycott and feng shui? You astound me.
He had cancer a few years back and was trying pretty much anything to help. He swears getting his house worked over by a feng shui master helped his recovery. I think he's quite keen on Chinese medicine, too, as a result of it, but that may be me misremembering.
Boycott and feng shui!?! Actually, the idea of him swearing by it makes me wonder if I shouldn't give it a go!

With Trescothick, you have to wonder how he'll view all this when older, because it's true that you then start regretting the things you didn't do. It could actually cause him to feel even worse about himself in the future.

Slater is bipolar, I think. In an interview he told a story about how Warney and some other bowler used to go "tick tock, tick tock" when he was batting because they said he was a time bomb about to go off. The good old team spirit in the years they were invincible ...
Warne is a great cricketer but *not* a nice man!
Warney can be nice. After the fires last year, he took a lot of interest in a little boy who had lost his house and wouldn't speak for ages. The first time he spoke was to Warney. Since then, Warne has kept contact and bought Christmas presents for all the family. All out of the media glare as well; in fact, it came out only at the end of last year that he'd been doing this. He probably saw the thing with Slats as "just sledging". Sledging, unfortunately, is part of the Australian cricket culture here. Gabe's encountered it in under-10 cricket. Warne's a lot older now, too, than he was at the time of the Slats incident; maybe he'd be different today.
That's nice to know.

I really don't think ten year olds should have to be coping with sledging!
No, Gabe was quite upset about it.
That reminded me of this bloke, of whom I'm only aware because the Weakerthans did a song about him.
That's a name you don't forget. I'd certainly never heard of him.