Marcus Trescothick’s international career may well be over after he was forced to quit the Ashes tour, according to a number of former England captains and coaches.
The opening batsman has suffered a recurrence of the stress-related illness which saw him return home from the tour of India earlier this year and reportedly prompted his decision to opt out of last month’s ICC Champions Trophy.
The latest setback is a massive blow to England’s bid to retain the urn they won for the first time in 18 years last summer and has cast doubt over the future of the 30-year-old.
Asked where this latest episode leaves Trescothick’s Test career, former England coach David Lloyd said: "In great doubt. This is two, three times this has happened."
Former England captain Bob Willis said: "It’s a massive blow to him and his career. There’s severe doubt whether he can get back to playing international cricket again."
Mike Gatting and Graham Gooch, themselves both former England skippers, agreed that Trescothick’s situation left his position open to question.
"It must leave him in a little bit of doubt," said Gatting, while Gooch added: "I think there’s got to be a doubt about his future career."
All four expressed sympathy for Trescothick’s plight and Lloyd believes he would not have left the tour unless his condition was serious.
Lloyd said: "I know Marcus Trescothick pretty well and he must have a dreadful illness.
"The bottom line is he just cannot cope with it."
Willis and Gooch claimed Trescothick should not have toured in the first place, while Gatting admitted he was "not surprised" by the news.
Willis said: "They should have seen the alarm bells when he said he didn’t want to go to India. How a guy was going to recover in a space of a few weeks - they should’ve really flagged up the problem then.
"It’s the toughest challenge going for an England cricketer and he was obviously going to be given a tough time both on and off the field by the Aussies because of the mental problems he’s had."
Gooch added: "You have to think, why didn’t he make this decision before the tour?
"It leaves England in a bit of turmoil before the first Test."
Gatting believes England were right to risk Trescothick, saying: "They’ve got to take advice of the people who are dealing with it and they’ve got to say ‘we think he’s cured’.
The news will have rocked the England squad, who have little over a week to recover ahead of the first Test in Brisbane on November 23.
Gatting said: "You’ve got to be in control of your faculties against Australia, otherwise they’re going to tear you apart.
"Marcus knows that so he’s made a very brave decision."
Lloyd said: "From England’s viewpoint, this will be unbelievable news for the rest of the team.
"I should think they’ll be very reflective and very tired because they would’ve planned that Trescothick would be an integral part of this team and the Ashes campaign.
"That dressing room will be absolutely reeling at this news."
Willis added: "For Andrew Flintoff and the boys, (it is) the worst possible start. (There are) echoes of four years ago when players were taken to Australia who weren’t 100 per cent fit and fell apart before the series began."
Alastair Cook was backed to replace Trescothick at the top of the order, with Robert Key touted as the leading candidate to be drafted in as cover.
Lloyd said: "It’s damage limitation just at the minute and Cook will move up the order.
"Cook will open the batting but they will need a replacement player.
"There is a massive Flintoff support for Robert Key so that would be a factor.
"The other one is Ed Joyce."
Willis said: "For Brisbane, he has to go with Cook at number two.
"If they want a replacement opener, I think Robert Key is nailed on for that job.
"Whichever one of those two gets taken on board, they’ll be fine."