Marcus Trescothick's sudden departure from Australia has cast a sombre mood over the England side as they prepare for next week's first Test against Australia, but Andrew Strauss does not believe the absence of his opening partner will have a damaging effect on the team in Brisbane.
"Everyone was quiet and thoughtful after hearing that Marcus had returned home," Strauss admitted. "We really feel bad for him. He's a mate of ours and it is sad to see him leave a tour in this fashion. He is obviously at a very low ebb.
"He has also been a very important member of the team over a long period of time. No one contributes more to the team and he doesn't look for plaudits, he's that sort of person. When bad things happen to people like that, it doesn't feel fair and that is why we have all felt a bit down.
"But I really don't feel it is going to affect us cricket-wise. We've had to cope with things like this before and we have done it pretty well. I don't think it will affect us on the pitch but it would be wrong to feel happy and jolly knowing what he has just had to go through."
Strauss became aware that Trescothick was struggling to cope with his " stress-related illness" on Sunday, as did Duncan Fletcher, the England coach.
In an effort to overcome it, Trescothick had asked the England management whether his wife, Hayley, and their 18-month-old baby could fly out early to Australia they were due to arrive in Brisbane a week later.
Fletcher gave the plan some thought, and considered allowing Trescothick to fly home briefly, but after assessing the 30-year-old's condition with Nick Pierce, the team doctor, he decided that it would be best if he left the tour. Ultimately, the decision was taken out of Fletcher's hands when Trescothick himself decided he could not carry on.
"About two days ago the problem seemed to recur," Fletcher said. "We had thought about getting his wife and child out here early but I wasn't entirely happy with that. I had a meeting with Andrew Flintoff and the doctor and we decided he should go home. I just felt it was best.
"I was pretty uncomfortable about having to make the decision, but in the end it was taken out of my hands because he came off the field [on the final day of the New South Wales match]. It wasn't very pleasant in the changing room for him. He was upset and the doctor had to console him for a couple of hours."
Yet, amazingly, Fletcher does not believe selecting Trescothick for the Ashes was a gamble. "Before we came out here I had a one-on-one meeting with the specialist who was caring for him. He convinced me that, although Marcus didn't want to visit India [for the Champions Trophy] he would be fine in Australia.
"It is difficult to say whether this is the end of his Test career. A lot of players have come back from long-term physical injuries after being written off so maybe Marcus can play for England again. We wish him well because this is not a pleasant problem to have."
Strauss feels that cricket is well down the list of his priorities. " From his point of view it is not a question of when he gets back on the cricket pitch or anything like that. It's about getting himself well again."
England's chairman of selectors, David Graveney, promised to conduct a review of the situation regarding Trescothick's departure. He said: "I need to have a full understanding of everything that has happened before things can be taken any further."
Australia captain Ricky Ponting last night said he was deeply saddened by the news of Trescothick's breakdown. "All we can do is wish him well," Ponting said. "If it's an illness that's going to keep him out of such a big series as this, it's obviously pretty significant."
Australian vice-captain Adam Gilchrist added that cricketers were always vulnerable to bouts of depression because of the long periods they spend away from family and friends.
Gilchrist added: "On top of that there is the pressure and scrutiny you come under every time you present yourself on the field in front of millions of people. It can start to play tricks on your mind."Reuse content