When I was a kid, even from the early age of 9 – I was playing mens’ cricket. At the time, lucky enough to live in an era where International cricket was on free-to-air TV – and from that idolised one English cricketer in particular. Up until Test Cricket was removed from our Channel 4 screens, I’d watch nearly every second of a test match, and enjoyed watching England bat – mainly because walking out to the crease first up was Marcus Trescothick.
From a young age he suffered with depression, though not diagnosed. I’ve personally just purchased his book that was released over 6 years ago now but its a very good read. He was fine on the pitch, but it was when he came off that he often collapsed in a heap, crying for hours and often unable to sleep a wink. Even now, nearly 10 years on – he still suffers with it, but it is much more controlled. Back in the early 2000’s his wife was suffering from post-natal depression, and his father had fallen from a ladder and was critically injured – but he had to go on tour with England and felt he couldn’t say no to his country, despite really wanting to stay at home.
On the pitch, like mentioned – he was fine. If he ever felt it coming on, he would sing the lyrics to an Eminem song, which calmed him and he scored runs freely. His timing of the ball was impeccable and was a joy to watch. Off the pitch, he was often rendered motionless in airport lounges and shops not wanting to leave his wife and kids. One paragraph from the Telegraph’s interview from Alison Kervin with him back in 2008 really hits home about what he was going through:
This was not a case of him feeling a little bit low, or under the weather. Trescothick’s depression left him cowering, mumbling and sobbing in the corner of a shop at Heathrow, too terrified to get on a plane; desperate not to have to leave his family behind. It left him in tears in the changing-room after matches, and then, at his lowest, filled with suicidal thoughts as he lay trembling and shaking on the floor of his mother’s house having had to return early from tour in 2006. “There were times when I didn’t know how I was going to go on. I didn’t know how I was going to come through the pain. Getting through the night seemed so difficult; getting through the rest of my life, impossible.”
The Somerset opener was incredible. When he retired from international cricket back in 2006, he was 11th on the list of England batsman for runs scored and at an alarming rate. He is one of only four cricketers (at the time this stat was made, it may have been a few years ago) that averaged more than 30 in ODI cricket at a strike rate of more than 150. In total, in both forms of the game – he scored a smudge over 10,000 runs with 26 100’s and 50 50’s – in just 199 games. He averaged 37 in ODI cricket and 43 in Test Cricket, and had he been available when the IPL cropped up he would have been one of the first to be snapped up at auction.
Since then he attempted to go to India again, with Somerset for the Champions League – and it resulted in the same thing happening again. In a more recent interview with Donald McRae from the Guardian, in 2011 – this was what he said:
“At the end of the season before last, when I came back from India a second time,” Trescothick says, remembering his earlier breakdown in that country in 2006, when his premature departure meant Alastair Cook was hurriedly handed his Test debut. “That was when I went to the Champions League with Somerset [in October 2009] and had to come home. That took time to get over. That closed everything in the sense of me thinking: ‘Right, I’m not going to do that again. I have no ambition to travel abroad any more.’ Clearly, it only makes me worse so why should I even put myself in that position? The winter just gone has been great for me, the best since I’ve really started to struggle with depression, so maybe I’m now taking control.”
Since then, his form for Somerset has been incredible – he is now 39 and still playing well. Over his first class career he has played over 300 games, averaging over 41 and scoring 56 centuries and over 100 50’s. Twenty20 cricket would have been a much better place internationally with him in it, as for me had depression not cut his international career short – he would certainly be one of the greats of World Cricket! He had a good 6-8 years left in the test squad, and was/has only got better with age. He’d be in the top three or four English run-scorers of all time – no doubt.
What some fans fail to see is that behind every sportsman or woman, there is a normal person – who lives a similar life to what we do from day to day. They are not superhuman, and suffer the same illnesses and ailments that we do. They may seem invincible on the surface, and appearing as confident as they come – as Tresco did, but underneath they are just as human as everyone else. Many owe a great deal to Trescothick – his outing as a sufferer of depression was one of the first, and his book has since helped many sports-people to seek help, such as Michael Yardy, another England cricketer
In short – depression took away a future great of international cricket. But we should all be grateful that he managed to sort his problems and help others around him. To me, he is still a legend of cricket.