English opener Marcus Trescothick unexpectedly left the Ashes tour yesterday, as was widely reported in today’s local media. The reason for his sudden exit has been vaguely defined as a “stress-related illness”, which we assume is some kind of codeword for depression.

Trescothick’s mental demons saw him return home early from the English tour of India earlier this year, and then again from the recent Champions Trophy. Having now jettisoned out of the Ashes, English experts believe Trescothick’s cards may well be marked.

The Times’ respected chief cricket correspondent, Christopher Martin-Jenkins, was in no doubt, writing:

From a personal perspective, it’s hard to imagine Trescothick coming back again for England. It appears that his problems arise when abroad and the selectors are unlikely to pick a player who does not wish to travel at all. Whether he’ll carry on at county level with Somerset is another matter but I think that is the last we will see of him for England.

The Guardian’s Sean Ingle agreed:

Considering Fletcher’s iron-willed insistence that his players must be completely committed to playing for their country, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise – sadly – if the 31-year-old never played Test cricket again.

One voice of dissent came from Guardian cricket blogger Rob Smyth who said Trescothick simply needed to be given time to recover:

It has been suggested that England will never be able to trust Trescothick again, and that his Test career is over, but don’t be so sure: the same was said when Mike Atherton and (Graham) Thorpe pulled out of the previous two Ashes tours, yet both went on to play some of the best and most productive cricket of their distinguished Test careers.

The Sun tabloid played a surprisingly straight bat to the whole thing, possibly because it was too distracted by a James Bond-inspired page three special to take cricket seriously.

A poll of Sun readers suggested Robert Key would be most likely to replace Trescothick in the English squad. He is one of 14 English standby players also touring Australia, just in case.

One thing that cannot be denied is that the loss of the only English batsman ever to have played an Ashes Test in Australia is a blow. Trescothick had been at 4-1 with English bookmakers to finish the Australian summer as England’s top scorer. His sudden departure has pushed England’s odds of winning the series out to 6-1.

Peter Fray

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