England are optimistic that Jonathan Trott will resume his career as a Test batsman. It will not be next week and it may not be next year but Alastair Cook, the captain, made it clear on Wednesday that there would be a place for him.
Trott left the Ashes tour last week with a stress-related illness and is now back home in Birmingham with his family. It transpired that he had been fighting the condition for his entire international career and had been suffering from the moment he set foot in Australia.
“We all understand he’s got a long journey back,” Cook said. “We all wish him all the luck in the world to come back. It’s horrible seeing what he’s gone through on the last couple of weeks on this tour.
“Throughout his career he has struggled at certain times. He’s shown a huge amount of character to perform as he has done for England. It’s important that we give him a little bit of time and space away from the pressure of playing international cricket.
“He’s a class player. We’ve all seen it. We’d love to have him back but he’s got to make sure he’s ready. Let’s not put any time pressure on him.”
Trott was given a fearful working over during the first Test at Brisbane by the Australia speed king, Mitchell Johnson. England’s medical team had satisfied themselves that Trott was sufficiently in control of his illness – as he has been at various occasions in the previous four years – to cope.
But it was obvious to all concerned by the end of the match that the struggle had become too great. He flew home as soon as the match finished.
Two other players who left England tours in recent times with a similar ailment never resumed their international careers. Marcus Trescothick, who had already departed a previous trip to India, came to Australia 2006-07 but was forced to fly home before the Test series started.
At the 2011 World Cup, the Sussex all-rounder, Mike Yardy, left before the end of the tournament and soon after formally retired from international cricket. Both Trescothick and Yardy have continued to have successful county careers.
There has been a genuine outpouring of goodwill towards Trott in the past few days in Australia. While Australia’s players might be all on message, they have appeared genuine in their good wishes for his recovery.
England’s sympathy may be the greater because Trott is a popular chap in the dressing room. They will miss him as their No 3 batsman and most of them recognise all too well how the gruelling existence of big-time cricket can wear down its practitioners.
Cook said: “I haven’t had to fight the same kind of stuff as Trotty had so I appreciate I’m lucky in that sense. It can get tough. That’s why it’s called Test cricket. There’s a lot of tough moments.
“I’ve been lucky that I’ve at certain times found a score which has relieved the pressure off me on my place. It is important to have a sense of reality. Seeing what Trotty has gone through has given people a bit of that. You realise that it was a tough defeat in Brisbane but someone else is having it a lot worse than we were having it.”
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