TRESCOTHICK STILL FACING UP TO DEMONS A DECADE LATER
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
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