• Cricket

Harmison: I was depressed on tour for 10 years

ESPN staff
November 26, 2013
Jonathan Trott is taking a break from cricket for the "foreseeable future" © Getty Images

Former England paceman Steve Harmison has backed Jonathan Trott's decision to leave the Ashes tour due to a stress-related illness after revealing he himself suffered from a similar ordeal for 10 years.

In a column for the Daily Telegraph, Harmison has advised Trott to put his own happiness ahead of continuing to play.

Trott returned home a day after Australia sealed a 381-run win over England in the first Test, announcing he is to take a break from cricket for the "foreseeable future". Before his exit, Trott's performance at the crease had been labelled "poor and weak" by Australia batsman David Warner, which drew condemnation from England captain Alastair Cook and head coach Andy Flower.

"There are a few of us in the game he can speak to, but if he never plays international cricket again and is happy, that is a better outcome than playing and suffering," said Harmison, who retired from cricket last month.

"Hopefully he will be back, but the only person who can sort it out is Jonathan."

And Harmison, who debuted for England in 2002 and took 226 wickets in 63 Tests, admitted Trott's troubles were reminiscent of his own struggles against depression which left him twice considering to pull out of the England squad.

"Nobody knows more than me what it is like to be depressed while you are on a cricket tour because I spent 10 years hiding it as homesickness," said Harmison.

"I said I was homesick and that was actually used as a stick to beat me with. It was not just homesickness, although that did not help.

"It is a chemical imbalance in the brain and it is something I battled with for years. It tended to be inflamed when I was away from home because I did miss people, I was lonely and I did not have my support network around me."

Ex-England batsman Marcus Trescothick, who left England's 2006-07 Ashes tour with a stress-related illness and never returned to international cricket, has also lent his support to Trott. Spinner Michael Yardy also left England's World Cup team after suffering from depression.

And Harmison admits his fear of the reaction to revealing his problems kept him from speaking up.

"It is so, so tough. I can remember sleepless nights in hotel rooms where I would be in tears and then going out to play the next day," he said.

"I used to surround myself with people. I took a dart board with me so that people would come to my room after training or a day's play.

"I was comfortable with people around, it was when I was alone that the world caved in."

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