Opening up: Trescothick declares

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The Independent Online

On an early Indian evening two years ago, England's then coach, Duncan Fletcher, sat on the Baroda outfield and delivered a brief, sombre announcement. Marcus Trescothick, the team's prodigious opening batsman and all-round good guy, would be going home for personal reasons. It would be appreciated if his privacy could be respected.

And that virtually was that. Trescothick was by then heading for the airport. His England days were effectively over, and yesterday they were officially over. Trescothick has decided that he will no longer seek to revive his international career.

It was as if he stopped fooling himself that a comeback was possible, and the tone of his statement, issued appropriately on the Somerset website, indicated that an unbearable weight was being lifted. "I have tried on numerous occasions to make it back to the international stage and it has proved a lot more difficult than I expected," he said.

"I want to extend my playing career as long as possible and I no longer want to put myself through the questions and demands that go with trying to return to the England team.

"My desire to play cricket is as strong as ever it was. But due to the problems I have experienced, travelling abroad has become extremely stressful for me. I now think it is in the best interests of all concerned that the issue is put to rest so that the England team can concentrate on moving forward." England need him more than ever.

At Baroda, it transpired later, Trescothick broke down after batting. It had all become too much, the constant travelling and the pressure to perform. The joy had gone from the game, and no professional player of recent times, and probably long-ago times, has enjoyed it more. Cricket is in his blood and soul.

The stress-related illness that was diagnosed has relented but never disappeared. A few days ago, he reached the airport in order to travel on Somerset's pre-season tour to Dubai. The old sensations invaded his thoughts again. He went home.

It could hardly be said that Trescothick underachieved for England. From the moment he stepped into the international arena he looked to the manner born. Stress, anxiety, tension were strangers. He was friends with joy, pleasure and freedom.

Called up after injuries, he scored 79 in a one-day defeat against Zimbabwe as the others collapsed. A month later, in his first Test, he did it again with 66 against West Indies. The warning signs emerged slowly. He said how much he hated the travel, how it drained him. But on the field, wherever it was, he usually looked at home.

There were differences. His Test batting average is 43 but in 42 home matches it is 53 and in 34 abroad, 36. Similarly, in 123 one-dayers he averaged 37, but the figures were 44 at home, 30 away. If the demons were at their most evil in lonely hotel rooms, they skulked even as he was doing what he did best.

Yet his two greatest innings in both forms of the game might have been played on foreign fields. The 180 at Johannesburg in early 2005 turned the Test match and series England's way. It gave belief for what followed that year. In the cauldron of Calcutta in 2001 he plundered 121 off 109 balls in a losing cause.

Post Baroda, the next winter he went to Australia. His tour lasted two matches before the illness struck again; they were his last innings for England. In one of them he was dismissed by Shaun Tait, who also pulled out of cricket last month; he, too, said he was breaking down.

There can be no doubt that what happened to Trescothick was partly caused by the relentless treadmill of international cricket. It is not without irony that Giles Clarke, his former county chief who is now the England and Wales Cricket Board's chairman, has made plain his intention for more, not less.

Banger's figures

Full name: Marcus Edward Trescothick.

Born: 25 December 1975, Keynsham, Somerset.

Nickname: Banger, Tres.

First-class career: Somerset (1993-current); 13,570 runs, avge 37.28, 28 100s, highest score 284.

England career: 2000-06; 76 Tests (two as captain), 5,825 runs, avge 43.79, 14 100s, HS 219; 123 one-day internationals, 4,335 runs, avge 37.37, 12 100s, HS 137.

Highlights: Wisden Cricketer of the Year 2004; MBE 2005.

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