England team director Andy Flower said Australian opener David Warner got it “horribly wrong” when he publicly criticised England batsman Jonathan Trott, who, it emerged yesterday, has left the Ashes tour with a stress-related illness.
Flower was at pains to point out that Warner describing Trott as “pretty poor and weak” during the first Test at the Gabba had not contributed to the illness which Trott has been struggling with for some time, but said the comments were “disrespectful” and demonstrated why it was important to show sensitivity when commenting on opponents.
Warner, speaking prior to the news of Trott’s departure, said his comments “probably went a little bit too far” but said they were just “good banter”.
Flower said: “Jonathan has had his ups and downs through the month and (his departure) is not directly related to (Warner’s comments). I would also say that I think players commenting about fellow professionals in the media is disrespectful. I think on this occasion he has got that horribly wrong.
“I think we set different standards to that and one of the reasons we don’t like commenting about opposition players is because we don’t know what is going on in their dressing-room, we don’t know what is going on in their private lives.” As of last night, there had been no comment from either Cricket Australia or Warner following the news that Trott had left the tour.
Flower revealed that Trott had been struggling with the illness for at least as long as he had been an England player. “I was first aware that Jonathan struggled with these things from our first contact as player and coach,” he said. “There was therefore a chance at any time over the past four years they might interfere with his cricket – but no more so for this tour than any other. There was always a possibility. But he’s always managed it really successfully, and there was no reason to suggest this Test should be any different.”
Trott said he had to leave, for his own good and that of the team. “I don’t feel it is right that I’m playing, knowing that I’m not 100 per cent and I cannot currently operate at the level I have done in the past “My priority now is to take a break from cricket so that I can focus on my recovery.
“I want to wish my team-mates all the very best for the remainder of the tour.”
Trott was twice dismissed cheaply in the first Ashes Test at the Gabba by a resurgent Mitchell Johnson, though England had been optimistic that he would be able to deal with a tough series in a country where he has excelled in the past.
“We had high hopes that Trotty would have a great tour,” said Flower. “It hasn’t worked out that way. But we hope he will come back stronger in the future.”
Trott is not the first England player of recent times to experience similar difficulties.
Opener Marcus Trescothick and limited-overs all-rounder Michael Yardy have both also had to leave tours because of mental-health issues in the past decade. Yardy has not played for England since, and Trescothick just a handful of matches back in 2006.
Flower hopes 32-year-old Trott will be able to return at some point, but points out his long-term well-being is the most important consideration.
“He has to have this time away. He has to recuperate,” he added. “I’ve got the utmost respect for Jonathan Trott as a man and as a cricketer.
“I’m very thankful I’ve been coach while he’s been playing, not least because he’s been a brilliant number three batsman for us. He’s a great guy to spend time with. He’s also a strong man, and I am fairly confident he can come back from this.
“But it wouldn’t be the end of the world if he didn’t. He can be very proud of everything that he has done.”
Australia coach Darren Lehmann tweeted: “I wish Johnathon Trott a speedy recovery from a tough situation, a safe flight home to be with family!”