17 February 2009

Coming back to me: Another cricket post

Apologies to those of you who don't follow cricket, but as I'm listening to TMS, my mind is drifting to a book I finished a while ago. One of my Christmas presents was 'Coming back to me: The autobiography of Marcus Trescothick', and it was a very good read. As previous reviewers have noted, there's not as much about cricket as you might expect, but it more than makes up for it with its 'warts and all' window into the life of an international cricketer.

I haven't read much about mental illness; in truth, it's a subject that I find quite scary. But I found Trescothick's account of his anxiety attacks to be compelling and absolutely fascinating. I also found Trescothick's honesty about his own failings quite refreshing. He consistently points out (with the gift of hindsight) where he realises he made poor choices, and he says sorry to the people affected by those choices. Above all, I find this to be the most refreshing aspect of the book. It isn't always fashionable (especially in professional sport) to acknowledge one's failings. Conversely, sports psychologists seem to advocate a policy of ignoring failings and concentrating on past victories and successes. Whilst I can appreciate that this is a useful tactic in the heat of battle, it's hardly a sustainable way to approach your life and your work!

All in all, the book left me feeling a little sad for Trecothick. His aim in life was to play cricket at the top level, and he succeeded with some style! It's a real shame, though, that he wasn't able to continue for longer at the top level. His consolation is that he did reach the top level of the game, and that he's still capable of dominating the best bowlers, as shown by his county performance last season.

The happy ending is that Trescothick seems to have reordered his life in accordance with a new set of priorities. His choice to retire from international cricket shows he has realised the importance of the relationships in his life, and that cricket isn't everything.

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