It’s the first Ashes test at Brisbane and Jonathan Trott is being peppered by short pitched hostile, aggressive Australian bowling. There is also no shortage of sledging and verbal intimidation. Trott has founded his England career on a rock-solid temperament and mental clarity. But out in the cauldron of Brisbane, he appears to be desperately short of confidence and self-belief.
The subsequent announcement of his premature return home, perhaps explains why he appeared so uncomfortable out in the middle. To stand up to an arrogant, in your face, physical and verbal Australian assault, requires maximum mental toughness. Not only do you have to be ready for it. You have to thrive on it. Welcome it. And be prepared to give it back. Not necessarily verbally. But through action and deed.
The Australians are in the mood to expose any weakness they can find. And feeling vulnerable is a recipe for disaster.
The inner strength to match the challenge and intimidation comes from the power of unity in the dressing room. An ‘all in it together’, us v them siege mentality that unites everyone against a common enemy. And most of all, it comes from oneself – being mentally and physically and emotionally ready to take the pressure full on.
Being away from home of course, magnifies the intensity of the experience. You lose some of the emotional connection to your family and loved ones. Connections that give you emotional strength and a sense of normality. When you are touring year after year, the effect can be wearing. The love that you have for the game, can quickly become diminished. And there is very little respite.
You cant go out very much and let your hair down anymore. You are mostly confined to hotel rooms with the same people. It’s difficult to escape the pressure. Then you have the Australians making you feel totally unwelcome and publically criticizing your mental weaknesses. It’s simply no longer enjoyable.
By leaving the tour, Jonathan Trott has aided the cause of others experiencing mental anxieties in silence. He has opened up a debate that will serve a greater purpose than the more than the quickly forgotten Australia/England test series outcome.