Friday Read 18/11/11 (Catch Up) – Favourite Biography/Autobiography

Coming Back To Me – Marcus Trescothick

Generally speaking, sporting autobiographies tend to be a bit of a turn-off for me, much as I love sport. Mainly because sportsmen normally have very boring early lives, being ordinary kids of average families who happen to have a talent in a sport (in fact their childhoods are often more boring than average, as they spend every spare moment training).  So I am very selective, only reading those by people who I consider a particular hero of mine or with some different experiences or issues to talk about.

Marcus Trescothick ticks all those boxes.  Throughout his career, he has been one of my favourite cricketers, a man who plays the game with skill and style, normally with a smile on his face. I loved watching him represent England, culminating in his superb leading of the batting attack against Australia in the unforgettable 2005 Ashes series.  But I have to be honest, much as I love to watch him on a cricket field, I would not have considered reading his autobiography (and I suppose he might not have considered writing one) were it not for the unfortunate other side to his career.  As sports fans reading this will know, but others may not, Marcus very publicly pulled out of England overseas tours and returned home with “personal issues”, which he courageously revealed to be severe ongoing depression and anxiety.  And that is what the book focuses on – how he has faced up to and battled these problems.

As I have suffered for years with similar kinds of problems myself, Marcus’s story really struck a chord with me and I could totally empathise with him when he “came out” and talked about the issues.  You kind of put sporting heroes on a pedestal and forget that they are essentially ordinary folk, with the same kinds of emotions and responses as you or I, but rather than reduce his standing, Marcus’s revelations made me respect and admire him more, showing strength not weakness.  Not only that, his openness about what he has been dealing with, and the frank way he addresses it in the book, have helped to bring the whole issue of mental health problems in sport and – crucially – for men more generally into the light.  We men are notorious for our inability and unwillingness to discuss personal stuff, but that is starting to change and the role played by sporting figures like Marcus Trescothick should not be underestimated in that process.

I recognised so much of my own experience in the book – it made me laugh and it made me cry, sometimes at the same time.  Marcus has been an inspiration to many and deserves all the credit he gets for what he has done – as a cricketer and for men’s mental health.

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