Trott or Not?
Jonathan Trott is fast becoming English cricket’s Marmite man.
To his supporters, he’s the team’s rock, their most dependable and consistent batsman, a player who does the dirty work while others steal the glory.
To his detractors – and judging by the anti-Trott emails that come into our inbox during live text commentaries there are plenty of them - he represents everything that is wrong with England’s approach to one-day cricket.
To them, his one-paced, risk-averse approach to batting is holding the team back and putting too much pressure on those around him to throw caution to wind.
Jonathan Trott scored 98 runs off 116 balls during England's defeat against India in Mohali. PHOTO Getty
Thursday’s third one-day international in Mohali offered plenty of ammunition to those on both sides of the divide.
Although Trott top-scored with 98 not out off 116 balls, England lost the match by five wickets as India chased down a target of 299 to take an unassailable 3-0 lead in their five-match one-day series.
To the naysayers, Trott’s inability to accelerate in the latter part of his innings – he didn’t score a single boundary in the last five overs – meant England weren’t able to pose a truly imposing total on a pitch where even Geoffrey Boycott’s mother and her well-worn stick of rhubarb would undoubtedly have thrived.
But the flipside of the argument is to ask yourself where England would be without Trott?
Despite missing out on a century, Trott was England’s top-scorer in Mohali, just as he has been in 14 of his 37 one-day international innings.
His steady accumulation allowed first Kevin Pietersen, and then Samit Patel, to give it some humpty safe in the knowledge that there was someone at the other end that would be sticking around for the duration.
Trott’s batting average of 53, with three hundreds and 15 fifties, is 13 runs better than any other England player to play more than 30 one-dayers, and places him fourth on the all-time list.
“But what about his strike rate?” I hear you cry. “It is not the quantity of runs, it is the snail-like speed at which he scores them.”
But compared with his rivals for a place in the England side, Trott’s numbers stack up rather nicely.
Alastair Cook has a similar strike rate of 78.59, but his average is only 37. Ravi Bopara, an infinitely more gifted strokeplayer than Trott, clocks in at 75, while Ian Bell - the player most likely to replace Trott in the England side - comes in at 73.37.
Of England’s regular top five, only Kevin Pietersen and Craig Kieswetter score more quickly than Trott, but while the former has not scored a one-day century in his last 33 innings, the latter has just one ton in his 26 ODI knocks.
Trott is never going to please the purists, his style of play will always have the capacity to frustrate, but he gives the England one-day side a dependability they have never really had, and in his ability to bat through an innings should be held up as an example to his under-performing team-mates.
He is a genuine run machine in all forms of the game and could finish his career with a better Test and one-day average than any other England player in history.
Perhaps, it’s Trott’s lot that he will not be fully appreciated until after he retires.
As Joni Mitchell once sang, “you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone.”