Australia, at least temporarily, looked like the dominating side of yesteryear when it finished off England in the early evening on Sunday. Not just in the sense that the victory was comprehensive. Australia won big, but it also won ugly. The world-beating side of the golden era commencing in the late 90s and finishing a few years ago but was universally respected, but most definitely not liked. Visits to the match referee were a common occurrence for dissent, sledging and other acts of miscreancy. This was a side which pushed the envelope. And so as Michael Clarke dished it out to Jimmy Anderson in the dying light on Sunday, it was a case then of everything changes, yet everything stays the same. Clarke, in his abuse could so easily have been a fired up Ricky Ponting, or Matthew Hayden tossing obscenities from the slip cordon. This was not to say England were without sin. Indeed, what saw Clarke hauled before the match referee and forced to dip into his change purse was not so much the sledge itself, but his misfortune at having it captured by the stump microphone and broadcast to millions of viewers. Much more unseemly, at least when viewed in hindsight, were David Warner’s remarks about Jonathan Trott’s performance at the crease.
The sad story of Jonathan Trott, of course, has in the end come to overshadow Australia’s unexpected victory. Trott, having made a rather unconvincing 10 and 9 in two knocks, returned home to much surprise on Tuesday evening, with what was euphemistically described by England medical staff as a stress related illness (read depression and or anxiety). It, perhaps all makes sense now; many remarked upon Trott’s constant taking and retaking of his guard as obsessive-compulsive. Now, it seems that perhaps this was symptomatic not of the pop culture definition of OCD; someone who is perhaps habitual or a little neurotic, but rather of the actual debilitating, soul destroying clinical definition of said condition. Clearly, Trott’s condition was affecting his cricket; he looked a far cry from the batsman who was central to England’s destruction of Australia last time England visited. Whether or not his condition had all that much to do with his cricketing performance, at least in terms of cause and effect, would be to speculate emptily. For all we know, Trott could very well have suffered from such conditions since before he even picked up a cricket bat. It is just as likely the lack of runs followed the depression as that the depression followed a lack of runs. The England medical staff and coach Andy Flower acknowledged that it has been a long running issue for Trott. The way having been cleared by other players who acknowledged their own suffering, most notably Marcus Trescothick, hopefully Trott shall now receive the help and understanding he needs. As Michael Clarke demonstrated on Sunday, it can become very easy to forget it’s just a game of cricket.
Originally written for theinfinitive.com.au