Renowned sports psychiatrist Dr Steve Peters claims he did little more than give Jonathan Trott the tools to rebuild his England career.
Warwickshire batsman Trott touched down in the West Indies with England on Thursday night, back in the international set-up for the first time since leaving last winter’s Ashes tour with a stress-related illness.
Trott has spoken openly of his struggles since, but has slowly rehabilitated his career with both Warwickshire and the England Lions and is now on the brink of returning to Tests.
The 33-year-old has worked extensively with Dr Peters during the last year, learning from a man who has done notable work with the British cycling team, Liverpool FC and Ronnie O’Sullivan, and who introduced the ‘Chimp Paradox’ in a bid to help people better manage their own minds.
But speaking yesterday, Peters said there is no magic cure and that Trott had worked hard to counter his problems, which he described as “situational anxiety”.
He wrote: “He ticked all the boxes. It was a foregone conclusion to me that he would make massive progress – I just hoped that he would then perform as he has been doing and justify his place.
“Now he has done that.
“He’s an incredible cricketer. The advice I give to most of the people I work with is not to go public because obviously you’re training people to do a skill. A lot of people don’t understand it is a skill and therefore you might not get it right.
“People are expecting a magic-wand cure and that’s not really the way it works.
“Jonathan decided he wanted to go public about this because he has done so well.
“It’s a credit to the man. You can have periods in sport, sometimes a whole season, when things just aren’t happening and you’re just digging even harder to make it happen again – that’s effectively what Jonathan has done.
“From a psychological point of view, Jonathan is quite robust and certainly determined. It was just a case of giving him the tools to understand what was going on.”
Peters, who helped mentor the golden generation of British cyclists and also worked with O’Sullivan for his last two world titles, can see no reason why Trott will not make a successful return to Test cricket.
“What Jonathan did was to take it very seriously, he meant business, which is a measure of the man,” he added.
“He was very open, hard-working, and what I effectively told him to do was to get some insights into the way his mind was working. Then it was up to him to operate (his mind) in the way he wanted it to, rather than it dictating to him what was going happen.
“I don’t have a recipe for people.
“It’s up to the player himself to manage the mind in the way they want to in the future. That’s something anyone can do, it’s not something you only do when you’re distressed. Jonathan had what became a situational anxiety, and once that was understood, he was able to manage it.
“My feeling is that he’ll do very well and he won’t have any problems now because he has that insight.”
Kevin Pietersen, meanwhile, has announced plans to begin his season with Surrey against Oxford MCCU in The Parks.
Pietersen, hoping to press for an England recall through weight of runs in the LV= County Championship, signed a new contract with Surrey last month.
The 34-year-old was given fresh hope of a return to Test cricket, after his sacking last year, when incoming England and Wales Cricket Board chairman Colin Graves hinted in a broadcast interview that it was a possibility.
The record-breaking batsman is therefore expected to feature in his first championship match since 2013, against Glamorgan on April 19. But before then, he intends to turn out too against Oxford in a three-day match starting on April 12.
Pietersen said: “I think I am going to be playing at Oxford, just to get some overs in my legs.”
One man who may find himself playing alongside Pietersen at The Oval, is Australian all-rounder Moises Henriques who was been snapped up to play in this summer’s NatWest T20 Blast.
Henriques will join Surrey immediately after the Indian Premier League season concludes at the end of next month and will be with them throughout their Blast campaign and also as overseas cover for Kumar Sangakkara – depending on the veteran Sri Lanka batsman’s Test commitments in the second half of the summer.
Henriques, capped by his country in all formats but not selected for the forthcoming Ashes, said: “I’m really looking forward to this. It’s a club with a proud history and an exciting squad. I hope to play my part this summer.”
Surrey director of cricket Alec Stewart added: “Moises is a fine all-round cricketer and will add great depth to our squad.”