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Trott's dependability key for England

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Oliver Brett | 17:19 UK time, Monday, 16 August 2010

England's Test side, to use an Australian phrase, is travelling pretty well at the moment; the bowling is in rude health and the fielding is as impressive as it's ever been.

But coach Andy Flower knows the batting is an area that could certainly be improved. It was very much the weak link during the drawn winter series in South Africa, before four consecutive matches against Bangladesh helped massage some individual averages a bit.

However, England's two most recent Tests - notwithstanding helpful conditions for a proficient Pakistan bowling unit - have produced fairly modest scores of 354, 262-9, 251 and 118-1.

It's a far cry from the appalling performances at Sabina Park and Headingley last year (51 and 102 all out).

Nevertheless, the official rankings make for interesting reading: England have three bowlers in the top 10 in the world, but their best batsman, Kevin Pietersen, comes in at 20. And with this winter's Ashes series looming, that's a sobering statistic.

Jonathan Trott looking relaxed in the nets at The Oval

It would be unfair to categorise England's batsmen as flaky operators, however. Indeed, if you had to pick a cricketer to redo your pointing you could surely rely on Jonathan Trott to do a professional job.

Increasingly resembling the Mr Dependable every team craves for, Trott returns to The Oval - where he produced one of the most impressive debut performances by an England cricketer - for Wednesday's third Test against Pakistan.

"The last time I sat in this room it was a lot fuller," was his first observation when asked to reflect on a year in which he has produced 923 runs in 11 Tests.

The ride began with 41 and 119 against Australia, took in a bumpy winter in his native South Africa, and has now given way to a strong summer. There was a double-century against Bangladesh at Lord's, and two gritty half-centuries against Pakistan at Edgbaston.

Noted for his introspective style at the crease, Trott is a more effusive talker, even though he was not keen to involve himself in responding to Ricky Ponting's assertions that England could be in for another 5-0 whitewash this winter.

Preparing for his debut last year outside the intense bubble of the 2009 Ashes was a blessing, he feels.

"What helped me, in hindsight, was coming in and not having played the four games previously," he says.

"I was fresh, but the rest of the side... after the fifth game they were all so tired after what had happened at Headingley [Australia winning convincingly to set up a decider]. It was an emotional rollercoaster. But me not having played against them and they not having seen me, it just worked out.

"Feeling your way into a team is like feeling your way into a new job. Finding your role in the dressing room is important.

"Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss are really good at pulling a new player in and putting their arm around them. It's not about throwing them in at the deep end and asking them to find their feet. It's more 'here you are, you're good enough to play so take your chance.'

"I felt really welcomed at Headingley when I was added to the squad as there was a doubt over Andrew Flintoff's fitness. I had a drink with Flower and Strauss, and when I got my chance in the fifth Test what happened a week or two weeks earlier really helped me feel settled."

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Trott is backing Alastair Cook to rediscover his form

If Pietersen warded off some critics with a chancy 80 at Edgbaston, the vultures are now hovering over Alastair Cook, whose opening position could become Trott's should the Essex man's struggles continue - especially with Ian Bell poised to return to fitness before Brisbane comes along.

Trott says: "We all know Alastair. When he and Andrew Strauss are at the crease I feel very secure and feel I could be taking my pads off again at lunchtime. I look to Alastair as a batting partner and someone who can help me, and I hope he feels he can do the same. With regards to the team, he'll be fine."

England supporters will hope Trott is proved correct, and that England's faith in Cook is justified during these last two summer Tests in London.

In that case, Trott's Warwickshire buddy Bell, who has been in and out of the national side so often, may once again be left to sweat on his Ashes involvement.


  • Comment number 1.

    Why is it we continue to give the Shermanator chance after chance in our test team. His average is hugely inflated by runs against the minnows of test match cricket and I just don't trust him to stave off the australian barrage over the winter, both verbal and well aimed bouncers. Having said all that I'm not sure who would come in to replace him. Bopara has shown himself to be equally as shaky against the very best. At the moment we've got one top quality player in Pieterson and 4 decent batters in Strauss, Colly, Trott and Prior. Somehow we have to find two batsmen.

  • Comment number 2.

    Pieterson if far far from top quality in a far worse stae than COOK and for far longer. At least Cook is playing wellfor Essex we have no judge of how Pieterson is doing just his failures at England level.
    Colly is just as falable as anyone. As a batsman I would put Bell before Prior or Colly.
    You have to look at the top six as a unit when some fail others step up all this this guy is better than this guy is turning cricket into Soccer where only the guy that scores plays a part. This team has my faith it can do the job down under. If they were playing too well I would be worried they would be burnt out by the Ashes we do not need that.

  • Comment number 3.

    The ICC rankings right now are simply bizarre. Michael Clarke at 3? Based on how he's batted during his spell in England in both Tests and ODI matches, you have to laugh at him being ahead of Tendulkar. A better way of judging a side would be a look at their current lineups and the average ranking.

    Katich 3
    Watson 38
    Ponting 18
    Hussey 24
    Clarke 9
    North 48

    Average rank: (140/6) = 23.33

    Strauss 21
    Cook 33
    Trott 32
    Pietersen 20
    Collingwood 23
    Morgan 57

    Average: (186/6) = 31.0

    That might look significant but the statistics don't tell the whole story. The batsmen have had two series against Bangladesh in quick succession so haven't played a high batting points ranking series for a while (you don't get much acclaim for bashing the Bangla boys around with the bat. Trott didn't get much of a rankings boost for a double century but Tamim Iqbal went right up). Eoin Morgan's ranking will surely go up.
    Both sides are fairly equal. Each has a big gun (Ponting and Pietersen) out of form. Each side has a secure opener (Katich and Strauss) and one who questions still get asked (Cook obviously, Watson despite his success still gets talked about as someone to go down the order so Phil Hughes could possibly come in). Hussey and Collingwood are both dogged players. If Clarke holds the edge over Trott, then Morgan does over North who looks like the proverbial walking wicket at the minute.

    The rankings are all over the shoot as we have so many teams in a state of flux. Australia don't have a regular bowling unit. Pakistan have batsmen in and out. Many sides have had serious injury problems, like the Indians with their bowlers. Greats like Murali have left the game. It's making for some fun cricket but no team wants to take on the mantle of being the best outright.

    Oliver, can you do me a special request? If you're covering the next Test, can you find out what the correct spelling of Mohammed Aamir's name is? Cricinfo has him down as Amir, the BBC and Wikipedia have him down as Aamer, and the Sun website has him down as Aamir.

  • Comment number 4.

    England's batting is certainly a concern, Cook, as good a player as he is, is woefully short of confidence and runs, and is a worry; perhaps it's now too late to look at another opener before Brisbane? Pietersen, is, sadly not a great player, just a very good player, and his stats prove that; he averages under 50 - name me another "great player" who shares this stat in the present day climate of batting friendly test cricket.

    Colly is mentally very tough, but is limited in his abilty and Bell, for all his talent is too fragile to succeed at test level - it's a shame you cannot splice Bell and Colly together, what a good player that would make.

    Morgan looks good but it is very early in his career to pass judgement, so too Trott, was found out in South Africa a little bit, but certainly seems to have the concentration and right mental attitude to play test cricket. As with Morgan, we will have to wait and see. Which leaves Struass as the only player, in the top 6, who is not a concern - a class act and I firmly believe that it he, who needs to have a succeful series if we are to retain The Ashes.

  • Comment number 5.

    i wouldnt say that Trott is mr dependable now..

  • Comment number 6.

    I recently heard one of the skysports team (I think Bob Willis) say that Trott's place would always be under threat due to his ability being completely 'learnt, and not natural', unlike, for example, Bell and Bopara.
    I feel this opinion is both unjustified and ignorant of the fact that the team put out should be the best for winning the match, and not best for, say, the highlights reel.

    Personally, I do not even completely agree with the 'stylish batsman' moniker given to Bell and Bopara over others. Collingwood, characterised as a 'gritty', untalented batsman that some seem to be repulsed at having to watch, does in fact play more shots than a shovel to midwicket that many commentators seem to suggest, and Trott is as sweet a timer of a cover drive as many other England number 3s have been through the years.

    However, this is beside the point. 'Class' comes in many forms, and will usually win out over form, as the old saying goes. Class, for me, does not just mean a natural talent to wield the willow, but the whole mental and physical package (something Bopara/Pietersen and Samit Patel respectively could perhaps consider). Mentally, Cook seems to have the strength and relaxed attitude required, and so is worth his place in the team, even though I am a big Michael Carberry fan.

    And what happens when Bell is fit? It's that close, perhaps its why they've hired Buchanan, just to find out who gives the Aussies the biggest scare by being in the team!

  • Comment number 7.

    "Pieterson if far far from top quality"

    Based on current form, yes. But still averaging a shade under 40 this year. So in poor form he still manages to average only a little under what most of the rest of our batsmen average over their whole career.

    "At least Cook is playing wellfor Essex"

    And you base that on what exactly? A decent cameo in the T20 semi final, where he managed to get himself out once again?

  • Comment number 8.


    "I recently heard one of the skysports team (I think Bob Willis) say that Trott's place would always be under threat due to his ability being completely 'learnt, and not natural', unlike, for example, Bell and Bopara."

    Did Bob really say that? If he did then that is absurd coming from a guy who played at the same time as Boycott. The simple reply would be 'How many Ashes centuries have the naturally talented Bell and Bopara scored'? Trott may not be the most talented man around but neither is a guy like Graeme Smith, and he'd stroll into our side ahead of Cook at the minute at the top of the order.

  • Comment number 9.

    #1 - It's beacuse he's one of the best half a dozen batters available to England. Flower & Co, see his talent, and thus put faith in him. They've been repaid, eg in South Africa.

    I'm not too concerned about the batting, there's enough talent for Flower. I can see the quicks being impotent in OZ, hopefully Saker will get the best out of them.

  • Comment number 10.

    cook is a fantastic player with a goo future ahead of him. he should be given a chance to regain his from and get him ready for the ahes down under. if his poor form continues the likely move is trott to open and then themiddle order would be strenghtened with bell and morgan supoorting collingwood and pietersen...

  • Comment number 11.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 12.

    I've been impressed with Trott ever since he made his Test debut; anyone who scores a ton against the Aussies is alright with me. I think it is right the selectors have stuck with Cook for now but if he doesn't score any runs in the last 2 Tests my Top 6 for Brisbane would be the following...


    Trott has the temperment to open the innings; he could bat all day. As far No.3, I feel Bell has shown in the last 12 months against South Africa, who we must not forget are ranked higher than Australia, that he can stand up to a top attack.

    Plus Australia have no Warne or McGrath this time, yipee!!!

    First things first though: beat Pakistan 4-0, be ruthless.

  • Comment number 13.

    I get a bit fed up with people (including Jonathan Agnew) saying Pieterson is not a great player. Whilst he is far from perfect and has gone through a terrible run of form, he still averages nearly 50,(look at all the 'great' players who have averaged less for England), he has got 16 hundreds (so needs another 8 to have scored the most 100 hundreds by any English batsmen)and he is the one batsmen who I make sure I do not miss whenever England are playing!Apart from that he should be knighted for his 158 at The Oval 2005, if he never achieves anything else we will always be in his debt for him standing up to the aussies when England were crumbling, showing guts and playing breathtaking shots that no other England player could have done and winning us the Ashes!

    If we are going to have Trott opening in November it would be sensible to show some foresight and give him a chance now, to see how he takes to it?

  • Comment number 14.

    Trott is a key man in the England set-up as they prepare to defend the forthcoming Ashes Down Under this winter.

    But a comprehensive all-round team effort will be required in order to accomplish this. Cook is likely to come into prominence as he tries to regain confidence in the selectors and the fans. Or this tour could very well be his swan song.

    England to take the Urn 2-1.

  • Comment number 15.

    I really don't think there's too much to worry about with England's current batting resources. The selectors clearly think (and I agree) that our best 7 batsmen are the current 6 plus Bell when he recovers. I'm sure those are the 7 that will be on the plane to Australia, and then (thank God!) there are three practice matches to acclimatize and decide which of the 7 sits out at Brisbane. (And Bopara is not a bad 8th choice either.)

  • Comment number 16.

    Despite what some have suggested, Trott shouldn't open. Just because he's doing well at 3 and generally coming to the crease quite early due to Cook getting out, doesn't mean he should just move up. He's doing well there so let's keep him there.

    I think Cook will do better in Australia - it seems he struggles against swing more than anything else, and so his footwork is being exposed. Aus will be different. If anyone were to come in, I'd like to see Carberry who's in good form and should be next in line. But they'd have to get him in at Lords. Let's hope Cook scores at the Oval.

    Whatever happens, let's not get Bell in. Please. He'll get undone against the Aussies, like he does against most good opposition. He isn't up to it. Although I wouldn't mind being proved wrong...

  • Comment number 17.

    "...if you had to pick a cricketer to redo your pointing you could surely rely on Jonathan Trott to do a professional job."

    Sorry, but it'd be Andy Caddick for me any day of the week.

    Besides that, I'd like to see Carberry open. What will we learn about Cook if he makes a couple of decent scores in the next two tests? That he can play on a batting track? Cook has never performed consistently against Australia and his weakness to the ball coming across him will be harshly exposed down under.

    Would like to have seen Carberry given a run by now. Came in for Strauss and performed respectably, but has continued to demonstrate potential. If Cook has a couple of dodgy innings then we'll likely end up throwing Carberry in for the 1st Test. Not ideal. Disagree with howlingbell above as well. Drop Cook from the Ashes squad and bring in Bell and Carberry.

    Re the Oz batsmen: I'm not convinced that they are better technically than our batting line-up and I believe that we have more runs in our tail, however I think their mentality at the crease is far superior to ours. As is always the case, both sets of batsmen will get out to a jaffa but on favourable pitches, I think the Aussies are far less likely to give their wickets away. The concentration of players like Clarke, Katich and North isn't matched by anyone in the England line-up, although Strauss and Trott come close. If Ponting is back on his game then I'd expect real trouble.

    Again, I think that the key will be Swann. After 10 or so overs I think he'll be our only bowler with the ability to consistently deliver wicket-taking balls. On a positive note, I think he has the character to thrive in Australia. Can imagine him loving the banter/abuse and raising his game accordingly.

  • Comment number 18.

    Does nobody think we should have five bowlers in Oz? I would like to see Shahzad in the team, which means Prior has to act as the all rounder and bat 6. If we want to win tests you have to bowl the other side out. Unfortunate for Morgan, who i think has a fine international future ahead of him, but probably ultimately as replacement for Colly. I would have rested Cook for the next two tests, given Carberry a chance, but I would still take Cook to Oz. Ultimately, Cook and Strauss have scored a lot of runs together and I would just have given Cook a chance to go and get his feet moving in a more relaxed atmosphere.

  • Comment number 19.

    Cook I don't think is the most talented of batsmen but what really impresses me is how he grinds his runs out. Yes he's had a poor season but he's had that before, works on his technique and comes back stronger. I agree with Deep-Heat that he has an issue with the ball coming across his, but this is generally due to swing which is nowhere near as pronounced in Australia. Plus the Aussies no longer have the type of bowler like McGrath who can probe this weakness constantly. I think Cook will work hard between now and the Ashes and score at least one ton down under

  • Comment number 20.

    Trott needs to score well in the next two games before I would have total confidence in him. Though I think his ability to get himself in a bubble will be important in Australia as we are sure to be up against it at some point.

    Strauss scoring well would be excellent too as the captain is under great pressure in Australia, he will be targeted. If the team see him going out and hitting 50+ then it will breed confidence.

    The trickiest thing might be squeezing Bell, Colly and Morgan into 2 places.

  • Comment number 21.

    Why has there been no mention of Adam Lyth at Yorkshire as a possible opener in place of Cook? Cook himself was introduced at an even younger age than Lyth. Given how prolific he has been in the County Championship this year surely he should be getting more of a mention?

  • Comment number 22.

    Frankly England's batting line-up in general concerns me at the moment, and as good as the bowling has been, unless our batsmen get their act together then we are going to struggle down under.
    Cook needs runs at the Oval, otherwise I think it is best for him and the team if he is left out at Lords and given time to go back to Essex to try and find some form. If he can then he could still go with the squad down under, because if he is playing at his hard-working, focused best then he is a real asset for England, and one to frustrate the Aussies.
    There are problems beyond his over-publicised difficulties though. Our two best batsmen, Strauss and Pietersen, are both having poor summers, both with just one very lucky 50 each in this series. Morgan is still yet to silence the doubts over his record in first-class cricket, Bell, despite his fine form against the Aussies last summer, in South Africa and Bangladesh over the winter, will be returning from injury and could be rusty, while Bopara is about as mercurial as they come...
    If someone like Carberry (my personal choice if Cook does fail at the Oval) or Lyth come in then it needs to be done soon. The batting line up needs to be settled in Australia, even if the summer has not been that productive... so the management have to have a clear contingency for the Ashes if they decide they don't have confidence in the current line-up to get the necessary runs...

  • Comment number 23.

    1. Bell showed a certain aptitude in the 2006-07 Ashes with four half-centuries, and I think it’s felt his greater maturity now would help him to convert a couple of those into three-figure scores this time around. He has scored more centuries since then, including a couple against South Africa.

    2. But KP got runs at Edgbaston, Cook didn’t.

    3. I’m not sure what our scorecard says (produced by the Press Association) but we changed his name to Amir (from Aamer) in copy from the start of the Edgbaston Test as it was generally felt that was how it should be spelt. Others have also switched.

    4. Actually, you could point the finger at Strauss too – 11 Tests without a ton, and a woeful 06-07 Ashes, though I admit he looks a million dollars at the crease at the moment, until he gets out.

    6. Don’t understand why it matters how a player comes to be good. If you average over 50 long-term in Tests does it matter whether you are natural or taught?

    13. I see your point. Aggers says Cook will be dropped if he has a bad Oval Test, so maybe Trott could open at Lord’s

    17. “Re the Oz batsmen: I'm not convinced that they are better technically than our batting line-up” - well there is that!

    18. definitely going with four bowlers in Australia, it’s been a long-term plan

    19. Yep, Aussie pitches will hopefully suit Cook well. He got a ton in Perth in 06-07 so that’s something.

    21 – Lyth looks a very hot property indeed and will surely be blooded in international cricket next summer if, for example, we lose the Ashes and/or Cook continues to be a problem

  • Comment number 24.

    2. At 5:57pm on 16 Aug 2010, Rulechangecrazy wrote:
    ...You have to look at the top six as a unit when some fail others step up all this this guy is better than this guy is turning cricket into Soccer where only the guy that scores plays a part... ===================================================================
    This has to be the most stupid post I've read. The poster seems to think that:

    Football is not a team game because only 1 person scores a goal (?!?!?!)

    Cricket is a team game, despite all the batsmen having their individual scores (a reasonable measure of performance) (?!?!?!)

    Only an upper-class twit could come up with this nonsense so I think I'll just move on...

    Anyways, I think Cook will struggle in Oz. There seems to be perceived collective wisdom that he "only struggles against swing". nonsense. he struggles with anything on or around a good length, unless the ofrmat of the game (i.e. limited overs) allows him to try and pull. The aussies know this and wikll target him.

    Bell will also come in for a peppering - perhaps he deserves his chance but the fact is that at the moment there are a lot of questions over the batting line-up.

    Given this, I think we need 6 batters. 4,5,6 is Pieterson, Morgan, Collingwood (for me, I know 4 and 5 are currently the other way around) and 1,2,3 should be Strauss, Carberry and Trott. I'd have Bopara and Bell as spare batters and leave Cook at home.

    A lot will depend on the next test - and I'm goiong on Friday ;-)

  • Comment number 25.

    my gut feeling is england is going to beat Australia in the comming ashes" and i wish them good luck.England have the best bowling line in the world and one of the best batting line ups so watc out Australia.

  • Comment number 26.

    Having just witnessed yet another batting collapse at the Oval today English batting frailities are clearly the most worrying aspect on the eve of the Aussie tour. If one looks at the 6 innings to date against Pakistan and you take out the rare big knocks - Morgan and Colly's 200 plus partnership in the 1st test; Priors 102 in the 2nd; Pietersen's 80 and Trott's 55 also in the 2nd and in the 3rd, Prior's 84 in the 1st innings and Cook's welcome 110 today England's average per wicket is a staggeringly low 12.54 runs - 552 runs for 44 wickets. Trott was pilloried for his 210 minute innings today but that's where the English game has gone so badly wrong, especially at Test level. An inability to apply and concentrate. The run rate was not the issue today - we needed occupation of the crease. Too much one day and 20/20 - the art of real test batmanship is in serious danger of being lost for good.

  • Comment number 27.

    Centurion Jonathan Trott is playing marvellous cricket. Hats off to him and to fellow centurion Broad. The two have rescued their side from danger with that massive unbeaten partnership for the 8th wicket. Trott is indeed a very very dependable guy for his side. Bowling allrounder Broad is a match saver and a match winner too.

    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 28.

    Today Jonathan Trott made again a score of over 50 in a one day international. The commentator on Sky described his dismissal as "dosey" whatever that is supposed to mean.Again there were various comments about his ball preparation and scoring rate in the match.All these comments in one way or another underscore a certain element of negativity towards his batting skills amongst certain commentators.I would really like to know why this is so.Trott is clearly a test match batsman of quality so who cares if he takes his guard more often or takes more time than other players.If he annoys the opposition in so doing -good.Is it because he was born in South Africa or is it jealousy because his technique and test match batting is so much better than those commentating on him.I remember as a youngster watching another player who came in for such criticism-too slow and too defensive.Perhaps present day commentators remember him too-Geoff Boycott. Boycott was sacked from the England team for scoring too slowly and came into his share of negativity from commentators and press for playing so called unattractive cricket.
    I think many of the commentators today ,who happen to be former test players ,should look at their own batting averages and performances in the test match arena before they give thier opinions on Trott's batsmanship.


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