The Cricket Paper - - FEATURE -

Peter Hayter speaks to Mar­cus Trescoth­ick about his on­go­ing bat­tle with men­tal health prob­lems

Leaden-legs aching and thick, Mar­cus Trescoth­ick reck­ons how he feels af­ter three days on the Big Bike Ride for the Tom May­nard Trust is just how he feels af­ter a four-day cham­pi­onship game for Som­er­set these days.

But, though 41 and count­ing he is still go­ing strongly enough for the club to have of­fered him an­other year at the county ground and, bear­ing in mind the events of a decade ago, when he was forced to quit play­ing for Eng­land due to de­pres­sive ill­ness, that is some­thing of which he and all those who helped him through his dark­est days should be proud.

The im­mi­nent de­par­ture of Eng­land’s Ashes squad is a sweet and sad re­minder of what might have been and of what has been.

But, catch­ing up with him mid-ride a New Road, Worces­ter, I found that, while symp­toms of the ill­ness that laid him low do re­turn to dog him from time to time, Trescoth­ick’s pas­sion for the game re­mains as deep as ever.

PH: An Ashes se­ries must pro­voke mixed emo­tions for you, from your won­der­ful sum­mer of 2005 to the dread­ful win­ter of 2006-07. Ten years on, what are your me­mories?

MT: Win­ning the Ashes in 2005 is the high­light, not just of my Eng­land ca­reer, but my en­tire ca­reer. It was fan­tas­tic. Still now, wher­ever I go, ev­ery­one talks about it so much. But the great sad­ness is that the XI that played in that se­ries never took the field again.

We all thought this team had so much po­ten­tial, that we could be some­thing spe­cial. We had every­thing; a great four-man at­tack in Steve Harmi­son, Matthew Hog­gard, An­drew Flintoff and Si­mon Jones, Ash­ley Giles do­ing a great job as our spin­ner and a solid, run­mak­ing, bat­ting line-up. And once Kevin Pi­etersen came in and added that spark of ge­nius, what else did we need?

Then sud­denly, just like that, it ended. Things fell apart so fast.

PH: And one of the rea­sons was your ill­ness. Af­ter hav­ing al­ready come home from the tour to In­dia in early 2006, when you broke down again shortly af­ter the start of that year’s Ashes tour, did you feel, deep down, that your Eng­land ca­reer was over?

MT: I’d man­aged to get back into the Test side that sum­mer and I was do­ing pretty well. I missed the Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy in In­dia be­cause it was felt it might be risky for me to go back there. But I thought I’d be all right and build­ing up to go­ing to Aus­tralia I felt pretty good.

Then it went belly-up quickly and I was bat­tling ev­ery day, just try­ing to hang on, think­ing I’ll get through this, it will get bet­ter, it will get bet­ter. But it just wouldn’t. It was get­ting worse ev­ery day. And then came the re­al­sa­tion: If I can’t do Aus­tralia, where can I go?

As well as the pres­sure of go­ing into any se­ries, I was a walk­ing story by then. From then on, ev­ery time I was about to get on a plane to go away it was like: “How are you do­ing?” And I’d say: “I feel re­ally good.”

But in­side I’d ac­tu­ally be think­ing I’m ****ing bat­tling here and I haven’t slept for two nights. That’s what it came to and that’s why it came to an end. PH: But you’re still here, ten years on. MT: Be­cause I still love it. How I feel now, af­ter three days on the bike, is pretty much how I feel af­ter ev­ery four­day game; com­pletely knack­ered, but I love it and I still have the as­pi­ra­tion to carry on as long as I can.

The bits and pieces, the joy you get from play­ing well and win­ning games, are still the same.

PH: But do you look for­ward and say re­al­is­ti­cally, there must be a limit?

MT: I don’t know what that is. If I was to go into next sea­son and, by mid sum­mer, I hadn’t re­ally im­proved on what I’d done this year (714 Cham­pi­onship runs at 28.56 with two cen­turies) then I’d think it would be fair

I’d be think­ing, ‘I’m f***ing bat­tling here and I haven’t slept for two nights’. That’s why it came to an end

PIC­TURES: Getty Images

Still go­ing: Mar­cus Trescoth­ick cel­e­brates af­ter Som­er­set’s sur­vival this sea­son. In­set: With the Ashes in 2005, top, and his cur­rent open­ing bat­ting part­ner Ed­die By­rom

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