Tch... tactless, Mr Trescothick
How could he say that he found India and Pakistan difficult places to tour? The cricketer in me refuses to believe, writes Aakash Chopra.india Updated: Apr 16, 2006 15:49 IST
A day before I left for England for another summer stint, there came the news that England's longstanding vice-captain's mysterious reason for missing the tour of India was finally out. Apparently, it was a mystery bug.
The report quoted him as saying that he found India and Pakistan difficult places to tour with family in tow. And more or less gave the impression that the subcontinent was some horribly mysterious place from a medieval era where basic facilities were unavailable and going there was akin to going into battle.
The cricketer in me refused to believe that he could've said all this in this day and age, where every statement made by a cricketer is scrutinised minutely and even an inadvertent off-the-cuff comment can cause a furore.
Most players are well aware of this scrutiny and as a result, we generally try and make politically correct statements, also keeping in mind the fact that there is every possibility of being misquoted.
In any case, I thought Marcus Trescothick, a seasoned gentleman, had said something that had been misrepresented. But I got here and what I saw on Sky News just baffled me. Trescothick had indeed said all that and more on camera during an interview.
He talked about how touring -- being away for 300 days in a year living out of a suitcase -- affected one's personal life. Some of what he said was justified but a few reported incidents surrounding Trescothick these last few months make no logical sense at all.
There were reports that when offered the captaincy during the tour of Pakistan in the absence of Vaughan, he called his wife up to ask for permission. Then, he was due to fly back to England during the same tour because his fatherin-law fell off a ladder.
Last, but not least, this: Leaving India before the start of a hugely important Test series, first apparently for "personal reasons" which actually, as we just learned, was this mystery bug that can't be spoken of.
This mystery bug must've been really nasty because he was in tears when he boarded the flight back from India just after the English coach had stated he was leaving for personal rea sons and that everyone should respect his privacy.
When he left, personally, I sympathised. It is paramount to sort out one's personal life and after all, whatever the public believes, cricketers are human as well. They can have their personal lives and problems too and if they need time out to sort that out, it's justified.
Moreover, if you're not fully focused on the job at hand due to any reason, whether it's mental, personal or physical, you're letting the team down and it's better to let someone else play.
The entire media gave him that leeway and ended the matter there. But now, this "mystery bug" and a couple of tactless statements have needlessly started a fresh debate. And his comments have really put me off because he really has no business making what amount to derogatory remarks about another country.
In both India and Pakistan, players and their families are treated like kings and queens. Perhaps he should ask his colleagues who're travelling across India with their wives and girlfriends. I'm sure they'll have a lot of good things to say about our hospitality.
And then, as far as the playing goes, our players have played cricket despite very serious problems. Remember, Sachin played the World Cup matches even after his father died, Kumble bowled in a Test in the Caribbean with a broken jaw and I don't remember a single Indian cricketer from the current lot who left a tour midway stating personal problems that later became a "mystery bug".
Forget Indians, even Andrew Flintoff, now famously opted to stay back instead of being with his wife for the birth of his second child. Instead, he made a flying visit in between. His remaining behind was vital for his team. For most people, unless it's really serious, missing a tour midway is letting the team and country down.
And if it was a serious personal crisis, why talk about a mystery bug and make it worse by unkind references to other countries? Still, on a personal note, as an English cricketer, Trescothick'll probably regret not being part of a squad that won their first Test in India in 21 years to level the series. If someone of his undoubted class had been there — he's probably their best batsman — who knows what they could have done?
This is the third year running that the writer would be writing for HT about life in England over the cricketing summer. He can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org