Jonathan Trott’s international career is over. It must be considered doubtful that he will ever pick up a bat professionally again.
These are extreme claims to make on behalf of a player who has achieved so much and at the age of 33 on Tuesday should still be in the prime of his playing life. But the official announcement yesterday that Trott has again succumbed to the stress related condition which forced him to leave the Ashes tour last November sadly makes it all too feasible.
He has abandoned his comeback to the game with Warwickshire after a mere two matches. The first was against Oxford University, the second in the Championship against Sussex this week when he was again targeted with the short ball. Trott said: “It was with the best intentions and hope that I returned to cricket with Warwickshire this month. Much to my disappointment, since my first game, I have felt the same anxieties that occurred during my time in Australia.”
Trott will now leave cricket presumably for as long as it takes for him to feel confident that he can cope. But it is impossible to think that will happen this summer and were he to return to his county next season the international team will have moved on without him.
England would not dare select him for fear of a recurrence during a match and it may be improbable in his mid-thirties that he would gain satisfaction from moseying round the shires. There are still discrepancies in the explanation about what is wrong with Trott and his carefully selected and managed round of interviews last month can now be seen as misguided at best.
When Trott left England’s tour in Brisbane last winter following a fearful working over by Mitchell Johnson in the First Test, it was reported that he was suffering from a stress-related condition from which he had suffered throughout his career but had somehow managed.
During his tour of cherry picked media outlets last month, Trott played this down to the point of dismissing it altogether and appeared to put it down to burn out. He was, it seemed, a victim of the relentless schedules and the need to keep performing. That he was patently not ready to return is now obvious.
At its simplest and most fundamental, it may be that Trott has simply forgotten how to deal with the fast bouncer aimed at his body. To have achieved what he has in Test cricket, grinding down the most formidable of attacks with admirable attrition and resilience, it would be preposterous to suggest that he is in any way scared.
But it is also clear that he may be, or at any rate have become, ill-equipped to deal with it. If his batting method caused the initial vulnerability it would certainly be aggravated in his mind where so much of big time cricket is played.
The perpetually intense schedule may have got to him, fuelled by the perpetual need to succeed and its regular companion, the fear of failure. The wonder perhaps is that more do not fall by the wayside.
Nobody comes well out of this sad saga. Trott should never have played in the Brisbane Test where he was so brutally exposed by Johnson’s ferocity, if as the England management said at the time, they knew he was struggling before the match. It was evident to anybody who witnessed those events that he was not up to it.
And he clearly should not have come back so soon. The stage managed return after a four month break was bizarre. In seeking to explain what had gone wrong there seemed to be more obfuscation than illumination. In having the opposite effect of what was intended it was tantamount to a freak show.
That it has now ended, for the time being, like this suggests at least that Trott was in self-denial and fooled his medical advisers into believing that everything was fine. It would be immensely gratifying were he to come back properly but things can never be the same.
He will invariably be bounced by anyone capable of propelling the ball at high speed and his belligerent brand of cricket – he was one of England’s top notch sledgers – would see him laughed off the pitch. For now, Trotty needs all the help that the England and Wales Cricket Board have assured they will offer.