'Disappointment' at Vaughan's comments
Professional Cricketers' Association chief executive Angus Porter has expressed "disappointment" at Michael Vaughan's comments regarding Jonathan Trott after the former England captain said he felt "conned" by the explanation given for Trott's early return from the Ashes.
At the time when Trott left immediately after the Brisbane Test it was termed to be for a "stress-related illness". The batsman has this week said - in his first interviews given to Sky Sports, ESPNcricinfo and the Evening Standard - that he was suffering from burnout rather than any form of depression which Vaughan has taken to mean as being "not mental" issues.
"I was so tired, I couldn't think, I couldn't concentrate and I couldn't bat," Trott told ESPNcricinfo. "It was as if my processing speed was slower. My answer has always been to work harder. I can see that was a mistake now."
In a strongly-worded column in the Daily Telegraph, Vaughan wrote that players in the England dressing room and the opposition will now think that Trott did a "runner" from Australia when the going got tough.
"I feel a little bit conned we were told Jonathan Trott's problems in Australia were a stress-related illness he had suffered for years.
"He was obviously not in a great place but he was struggling for cricketing reasons and not mental, and there is a massive difference. There is a danger we are starting to use stress-related illness and depression too quickly as tags for players under pressure."
Vaughan was also critical of Trott's use of words "crazy" and "nutcase" during his interview with Sky Sports.
"He then completely disrespected anybody who has gone through depression and mental illness by using words such as 'nutcase' or 'crazy'. When I hear players talking about burn-out, I suspect it is an excuse. You never see players retiring from sport and talking about burn-out when they are playing well.
"What Trott will have to accept is that players in his own dressing room and in the opposition will look at him and think at the toughest of times he did a runner. He did not fight and got on a plane and went home. It is harsh but that is the reality."
Porter said that the comments were a reminder of the work still needed to be done not only with sport but in the wider society. "I'm disappointed in the comments by Michael Vaughan," he told ESPNcricinfo. "We all need to understand that there is a spectrum of mental illness and every case is different. It's a reminder that there is still much to understand and learn, I think across society as a whole."
Porter did, though, concede that some of the words chosen by Trott could be seen as "clumsy" although believes they were used to describe people's possible view of him rather than his view of how mental illness is perceived.
The ECB's role in how they explained the situation and briefed when Trott flew home has also been questioned, but Porter was sure they "did their very best to explain a difficult situation in a sensitive and sympathetic manner."
Another former England player, Matthew Hoggard, who has spoken openly about suffering from depression towards the end of his international career echoed Vaughan's thoughts.
"Very interesting thoughts from Michael Vaughan on Jonathan Trott," Hoggard posted on Twitter. "As a whole I would have to agree with him. When Trott came back from Australia citing stress-related issues I think we all automatically thought of depression.
"Having first-hand experience of the horrible illness to hear Jonathan use the words nutcase and crazy is so disrespectful and coming from a guy that cited mental health issues as the reason he came home astonishing."
A leading mental-health charity, Mind, emphasised that there are no simple answers when it comes to stress, and its various guises, and that there remains some way to go to create an environment of understanding.
"We all have mental health and, as with physical health, it's essential we are attuned to the signs and symptoms that can be indicative of underlying problems," Paul Farmer, the chief executive, told ESPNcricinfo. "Stress is not a medical diagnosis, but severe stress that continues for a long time may lead to depression, anxiety, or more severe mental health problems.
"Within the world of elite sport, there is undeniable pressure to deliver outstanding performances time after time. There is little room for error and failure to deliver can cost a player their position on a team. In turn there is an atmosphere where asking for help can be perceived as a weakness and speaking out about mental health problems a taboo. Cases like the tragic death of (footballer) Robert Enke show just how serious the effects of this stigma can be.
"It has been encouraging to see governing bodies, including the PCA, start to address problems within their own sports in recent years. However, the confusion and language that has surrounded today's story shows just how far there is to go.
"One in four people experience a mental health problem every year and the sporting world is no exception, however it is clear that we're still a very long way off the point where mental health can be discussed openly, honestly and with understanding."
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo