In Depth

Jonathan Trott quits Ashes: fury over Aussie press reaction

Newspapers accused of taking 'cheap shots' as batsman returns home with stress illness

THERE has been widespread sympathy in England for cricketer Jonathan Trott after he flew home from England's Ashes tour of Australia with a stress-related illness, but some sections of the Australian media have been less charitable, appearing to mock the batsman and incurring the wrath of mental health charities as well as England players and fans.

 Chief culprit was Sydney's Daily Telgraph, which ran with the headline "Trott takes his bat and ball and heads home", accompanied by a picture of Australian captain Michael Clarke grinning from ear to ear. Inside it ran another headline: "Trott does a runner". Although the Australian media is not noted for its subtlety, writes Tom Lutz in The Guardian, the Telegraph "outdid itself" with the spread. However, he notes that the paper did also carry a piece from former Australian team psychologist Sandy Gordon, who said Trott deserved respect for his decision. "Sympathy is in short supply elsewhere," Lutz notes, pointing out that the Brisbane Courier Mail said "Stressed Pom walks" on its front page, while the Adelaide Observer simply used the headline "Trott walks". Elsewhere, and The Australian opted to declare "Shaky Trott quits tour due to stress". Lutz's Guadian colleague Owen Gibson even compared the treatment to The Sun’s infamous 2003 headline “Bonkers Bruno locked up” when the former boxer was sectioned under the Mental Health Act. 

Sydney Daily Telegraph headline is "Trott Does a Runner". Shameful - on a par with Sun's Bruno front page. But that was 10 yrs ago.

— Owen Gibson (@owen_g) November 26, 2013

Jeff Kennett, chairman of the Australian mental health charity Beyond Blue, joined those criticising the newspapers’ "cheap shots", reports ABC. "If Jonathan Trott had broken his arm no one would have criticised him or inferred... that he's taken his bat and ball and gone home," he said. "We should be celebrating the fact that in this day and age, particularly a male, a high-profile male, finds that he can declare that he has a stress-related illness and then seek help for it." That is a theme taken up by most of the English media. "Trott is ill, and it will have taken huge courage to admit that," writes Steve James in the British Daily Telegraph. He says that the example set by Marcus Trescothick, who left an England tour to India in 2006, would have helped. "Cricket, and sport in general, should be grateful to Trescothick,” James continued. “By writing with such candour in his 2008 autobiography, Trescothick allowed cricket to take a grown-up approach to the problem." But despite the furore off the field, Australia's players have pledged not to take it easy on England in the second Test, which starts in Adelaide next month. Bowler Peter Siddle insisted that the sledging, which saw Clarke fined 20 per cent of his fee for telling England bowler James Anderson to get ready for a broken arm, would carry on for the rest of the series, reports The Times.

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