Trott underlines Test qualities
When Jonathan Trott reached his 150 on a somewhat trying day for cricket supporters at Lord's, most stood to applaud him. But this was no spontaneous, exuberant clapping, it was dutifully appreciative - as though they had just listened to a speech from the Lord Mayor at a summer fete.
And yet Trott's achievement on the opening day of the first Test of the summer was significant. After the best possible start to a Test career - a century on debut in an Ashes decider, no less - there had followed an awkward comedown featuring six Tests in South Africa and Bangladesh with a top score of 69.
Trott has the qualities to make a name for himself in Test cricket - photo: Getty
In the match in Johannesburg in January, he had looked particularly ill at ease, a mere shadow of the man who had kept Mitchell Johnson and co so effortlessly at bay last August at The Oval.
With the necessary caveat that England's opponents on Thursday were "only Bangladesh", Trott gave some sort of indication that the number three position - an area of vexation for England's management with Ian Bell, Owais Shah and Ravi Bopara all having failed to nail down that spot - may have found an occupant who can stand the test of time.
Trott ended the day unbeaten on 175. He scored his first 50 pretty brightly, off just 75 balls, as he drove sweetly through the gaps with crisp footwork. He moved from 50 to 100 with some alacrity (58 balls), but when Bangladesh went on the defensive, posting fielders in his scoring areas, he was unworried.
His third fifty was by far his slowest. It took 110 balls. At no stage did he seem remotely flustered and by the end he had changed gear again, with three sweetly-struck boundaries coming in the last eight overs.
In a fillip for the County Championship, it certainly helped that he entered the match with a big century for Warwickshire, against a strong Lancashire attack, behind him.
If England have a natural entertainer in their armoury in Kevin Pietersen, who played prettily for a short while before an ugly shot brought about his rapid demise, in Trott they have the anti-entertainer.
And to have a batsman who can simply go about his business, and play a long innings with several changes of pace, is no mean thing.
There are no extra prizes for scoring your runs stylishly in Test cricket, and mostly it matters not how quickly you get them when you bat in the top three. When England face Australia in Brisbane this November, a really boring, long innings from Trott to start off the campaign will go down very nicely indeed.
I remember interviewing the former New Zealand batsman Mark Greatbatch three summers ago when Trott had been brought into Peter Moores' first one-day squad.
Greatbatch, who was then Trott's county coach at Warwickshire, said the South African-born player had benefited enormously from working with the county's sports psychologist - learning processes and routines that helped him to focus on his batting.
Occasionally he almost looks too focused, if such a thing is possible. He can get a bit blinkered - he is not a great runner between the wickets - and he has not taken particularly well to Twenty20 or one-day internationals, where he has less time to get his eye in.
But, if we can assume that the Johannesburg Test was an anomaly, Trott showed on Thursday that he might have the right qualities to make a name for himself in Test cricket.
As a friend summed up in a rhyming text message: "I know the bowling and fielding weren't that hot but that was an impressive knock by Trott."