Image courtesy of: The Evening Standard
“I thought I was walking away from everything I had ever worked towards”
England batsman Jonathan Trott has revealed that he really believed he would “never play for England again” after he returned home midway through the recent Ashes series in Australia with a stress-related illness.
Trott also brought to light the fact that he was more exhausted than depressed.
He even went on to admit that he felt guilty for abandoning his team-mates in the middle of one of the most historic series in international cricket.
“At the time I left the dressing room, I thought that was the end,” Trott said in an exclusive interview with ESPNcricinfo. “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 revealed that a combination of on and off field problems had left him drained, edgy and unable to concentrate on anything.
“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 [for 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 was also quick to deny that he retuned home due to the fact that he fell victim to Australia left-arm pace bowler Mitchell Johnson in both innings of the first Test.
“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.”
However, despite all the problems he has endured over the past couple of months, Trott is excited about making his domestic comeback on April 1 and is determined to regain his spot in the national team.
“This is the longest I’ve ever gone without picking up a bat,” Trott said. “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.”