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Michael Vaughan feels ‘conned’ by Jonathan Trott’s mental illness claims

Michael Vaughan (above) said © Getty Images
Michael Vaughan (above) says Jonathan Trott doesn’t understand how important the issue is © Getty Images

By Julian Guyer

London: Mar 17, 2014 

Former England captain Michael Vaughan felt deceived by Jonathan Trott‘s revelation last weekend that he left England’s Ashes tour of Australia suffering from “burn out”, he revealed on Monday.

When Trott quit what turned out to be a 5-0 Ashes thrashing by Australia after twice falling cheaply to fast bowler Mitchell Johnson in the first Test in Brisbane, England officials said he was suffering from a “stress-related illness”.

However, South Africa-born batsman Trott told Sky he’d been “burnt out” but was not depressed.

That prompted Vaughan, England captain from 2003-2008, to write in his column in Monday’s Daily Telegraph: “I feel a little bit conned we were told Jonathan Trott’s problems in Australia were a stress-related illness he had suffered for years.

“We were allowed to believe he was struggling with a serious mental health issue and treated him with sensitivity and sympathy. He was obviously not in a great place but he was struggling for cricketing reasons and not mental, and there is a massive difference.

“There is a danger we are starting to use stress-related illness and depression too quickly as tags for players under pressure,” Vaughan, himself a former top-order batsman, added.

In his interview with Sky, Trott said he feared the public thinking he was a “nutcase”, adding that he wasn’t “crazy”.

However, Vaughan wrote Trott had “completely disrespected anybody who has gone through depression and mental illness by using words such as ‘nutcase’ or ‘crazy’.

“We have seen other England cricketers suffer from depression,” said Vaughan, whose former Test colleague Marcus Trescothick had his international career cut short by a stress-related illness.

“I do not think Trott realises just how important an issue it is.

- ‘Burnout an excuse’ -

“When I hear players talking about burnout, I suspect it is an excuse. You never see players retiring from sport and talking about burnout when they are playing well.”

Trott scored just 19 runs in two innings at Brisbane and struggled against the bowling of Johnson.

“What Trott will have to accept is that players in his own dressing room and in the opposition will look at him and think at the toughest of times he did a runner,” said Vaughan.

“He admitted that the previous occasion he suffered burnout was in South Africa in 2009/10, the only other time he has faced top-quality fast bowling.

“He did not fight and got on a plane and went home. It is harsh but that is the reality.”

However, Anguis Porter, the chief executive of England’s Professional Cricketers’ Association, took issue with Vaughan’s comments.

“I’m not a psychologist and I don’t think Michael would claim to be an expert on mental health issues,” Porter told AFP. “All cases are different.”

“I think it’s dangerous to say that someone suffering from classic clinical depression has a problem but that someone with a condition elsewhere on the spectrum of mental illness doesn’t.”

While England statements on physical injuries are usually specific, the same clarity has often been lacking in announcements regarding players suffering from mental health issues, with the relatively vague term of “stress-related illness” employed by officials to describe the condition of both Trescothick and Trott.

Porter, asked if more specific language might be helpful in avoiding misunderstandings, said: “I think that’s fair but that is a societal issue, not one for cricket.

“I think we should be supportive of people who speak out about these difficult issues. We wish Jonathan well and hope he makes a quick recovery.”

Warwickshire batsman Trott told Sky he wanted to regain his England place.

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