Big Interview: Mind over matter for Marcus Trescothick
At the age of 41, Marcus Trescothick’s passion for cricket seems greater than ever.
An immensely-gifted batsman, there are many who will be wishing he still played for England – given their batting woes as they lost the second Test of the current Ashes series Down Under.
He called time on his international career almost a decade ago though.
In March 2008, a year-and-a-half after his final England appearance, former Test and ODI captain Trescothick announced his retirement due to his struggle with depression.
He released an autobiography that year, Coming Back to Me, which explained his difficulties and decision to just play domestic cricket for Somerset – because it meant he would only be, at most, a few hours away from his family.
Trescothick did not do it to advise anyone how they should go about coping with the illness, but rather to let people know what was going on – lift a weight off his shoulders.
“It was good to put it all to bed, you know,” he said. “Everybody was asking what the hell was going on and once I finally announced it was mental health problems – the reception was great.
“So many people suffer from it, or will suffer from it, in their lifetime.
“The sympathy and the understanding was so great and then you write the book to give them an insight to what has happened – people were apologising after saying ‘what have you got be depressed about?’
“I’m not the only one, don’t get me wrong, there are various other cricketers that have talked about it – and various sports people and celebrities that have talked about it.
“The more we can keep shouting and creating that impact, the easier it’ll be for someone else.”
And now, while still playing for Somerset, he is aiming to help fellow cricketers who are struggling through the Professional Cricketers’ Association’s Benevolent Fund.
It helps cricketers readjust to the world beyond the game. Trescothick is a trustee of the fund, along with the likes of Andrew Flintoff, David Leatherdale and Daryl Mitchell.
Having had that support from the fund during his difficult period, it is a cause very close to his heart.
“It’s nice to be involved in it,” said Trescothick. “When I had my problems, it was nice to know you could phone up the PCA and they could put you in touch with people really quickly – and start the road to recovery.
“It was bumpy at times, but you can start getting wheels in motion to getting better.
“I was at a meeting at the House of Commons recently, a round-table meeting with various other sports people – Frank Bruno, James Wade – discussing how much support individual sports get.
“Cricket is leading the way in that area, because other sports have zero.
“We are really lucky we have what we have as we tap into so many areas of problems that people suffer in their lives.”
Trescothick was speaking during the Big Bike Ride, cycling from Edgbaston to Cardiff to raise funds for the Benevolent Fund and the Tom Maynard Trust – set up to help disadvantaged aspiring cricketers after Maynard’s death in 2012.
On raising the money, he said: “It’s two good causes. The first is the Benevolent Fund – who look after all players past and present should they need counselling for mental health, like myself when I dipped into it.
“Or it could be someone who is 75 and needs a knee replacement. There’s various different departments – once you’re a member of the PCA, you’re a member for life.
“We do as much as we can but we need to keep raising money because we are getting more and more cases that are coming through.
“The second cause is the Tom Maynard Trust, set up after Tom sadly passed away a few years ago.
“I am good friends with his dad, Matt, having played cricket with him for England and he has also done some coaching with us down at Somerset. It’s obviously nice to help out.”
While enjoying success, to this day, at domestic level, Trescothick’s international displays are what made him a household name.
He represented England in 76 Test matches and 123 ODI’s, and was part of the the 2005 Ashes-winning side. On what his stand-out career memory is, Trescothick said: “2005 is probably the most obvious one that comes along.
“That was the last series that was on terrestrial TV. Obviously, now, it’s pay to view.
“When you are playing international cricket and travelling around the world, there is great memories from various different series that you could sit down and think about.
“It was a great time. I had six years of playing international cricket and doing what you’re doing – in front of 30,000 people everywhere you go – was great.
“You speak with some of the guys now, you can tell the passion is there.
“You are very lucky if you can make it to the next level.”
Trescothick’s last Test for England was against Pakistan in August 2006 – and his last ODI was against the same nation, that same month.
His form for Somerset just prior to the turn of the decade got people wondering whether an international swansong would happen.
And, while tempted, Trescothick decided against it.
“I would have been doing it for the wrong reasons,” he said. “I remember we had just played Warwickshire at Edgbaston and I had got back-to-back hundreds.
“I sat back and thought that I would love to do it – and I always talked about a swansong, at The Oval. You dream about that moment where you are walking on saying ‘thanks very much, I’m done’ and everything with your bat up, celebrating your illustrious career.
“I would have been going back for the wrong reasons though and I sent text messages saying ‘don’t even think about it, I’m not interested’, although it would’ve been nice.”
Trescothick’s contract with Somerset runs until the end of the 2018 season.
It will be his 26th county campaign and he has more than 50 first-class centuries for them.
On whether he still has the same love for playing, he said: “Absolutely, it keeps me going.
“I’m sure they will just kick me out eventually and say ‘right you’re done’ and get some more youngsters in.
“But if I’m still good enough to do it, running on one-year contracts, keep scoring the runs then I’ll continue playing as I have a really good passion for it.
“When I get to the moment when I’m not good enough to do it anymore, I’ll say ‘thanks very much’ and step aside – and then, hopefully, move into another area that gives me as much pleasure as playing cricket has.”
And on what he’ll do when he finally calls time on his domestic career, Trescothick added: “In the PCA, I’m involved with the Benevolent Fund and a Trustee with the Team England player partnership – looking after sponsorship money for the England team.
“Combining those two unpaid roles keeps me quite busy but I would imagine it’s either coaching – Somerset want me to move into that a little bit, as my time comes to an end – or TV work.
“I’ve done a bit with Sky and I also coach at Taunton School, so I’m busier now than when I played cricket full-time. There is lots to do.”