Marcus Trescothick, England’s troubled opening batsman, has flown home from Australia with a recurrence of his “stress-related illness” and will play no part in the Ashes.
In a massive blow to England’s prospects, Trescothick left from Sydney International Airport early on Tuesday morning, having also missed the Champions Trophy in India. Following discussions with team management and medical staff, it was agreed he should fly home as soon as possible.
Though he had declared himself “relaxed and ready” for the challenge, he made just 2 and 8 in England’s first two warm-up matches at Canberra and Sydney, and questions will now be asked as to why he was allowed to tour in the first place.
“We fully believed Marcus was ready and fit and able to be part of the team in this most important tour,” the ECB chairman, David Morgan, told The Sydney Morning Herald. “It is with surprise and great regret that we heard his stress-related illness had re-occurred. This is sad for Marcus but he has a very supportive family.”
“It is disappointing to lose a player of such quality,” said Duncan Fletcher, England’s coach. “Everyone in the England dressing-room hopes he makes a full recovery and is able to resume his international career.”
Trescothick’s problems began on England’s tour of India last winter, when he flew home in tears ahead of the first Test at Nagpur. Speculation was rife as to the cause of his illness, although the ECB shrouded his departure in a blanket of secrecy, and the full extent of his problem has never yet been revealed.
He regained his spot in the team at the start of last season and scored a century in his comeback innings against Sri Lanka at Lord’s. However, the rest of the summer against Sri Lanka and Pakistan produced a run of low scores and mid-way through the one-day series with Pakistan it was announced Trescothick would miss the Champions Trophy.
“It’s an enormous blow,” Ian Botham told Sky Sports. “They obviously thought it’s not worth it, and so it’s back to the drawing board.” Alastair Cook is now the obvious choice to move up the order, just as he did on debut at Nagpur last winter, while Kent’s Robert Key - who impressed in a losing cause on the last Ashes tour in 2002-03 - is expected to be drafted in as a replacement.
Trescothick played a key role in England regaining the Ashes last year as he took on the Australian bowlers at the top of the order. His aggressive 90 at Edgbaston set the tone for England’s fightback after their defeat at Lord’s and his partnerships with Andrew Strauss produced a series of flying starts.
However, his record in Australia during the 2002-03 tour was much more indifferent as he was constantly troubled by the pace attack. He averaged just 26 and his record against Australia is 10 runs lower than his career average. This latest twist to Trescothick’s situation shows similarities to Graham Thorpe before the last Ashes tour. Thorpe was named in the squad but pulled out for personal reasons before the team left for Australia.
Andrew Miller is UK editor of CricinfoMore on:Ashes, Australia, england, Marcus Trescothick
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