James Lawton: Clear message from the nets and Planet Trott

Only four batsmen ended their Test careers with a superior average to the one owned by Jonathan Trott

if it really is true the balance of an Ashes series has rarely tilted so far in the direction of England on Australian soil, you don't have to delve too deeply into the bushes searching for supporting evidence.

Some of it was plainly visible in the nets of the beautiful Oval ground where Sir Bradman came to prosecute his trade and the Chappell brothers made their family dynasty.

You could trace it in the work and the demeanour of two men, one Australian, the other English – at least in a manner of speaking – and the contrasting extent of the help they seemed to need before the start of the second Test tomorrow.

Michael Clarke, the Aussie vice-captain so desperately out of touch at The Gabba he has had to repeatedly deny that his chronic back problem has come near to breaking point, was clearly happy to accept vital signals from his captain, Ricky Ponting.

As always, the source of those being received by Jonathan Trott was more a matter of speculation, some suggesting they might even be coming from outer space, Venus or Jupiter maybe.

However, if the South African-bred Trott remains very much in his own zone – or planet – it is one which, for the moment at least, cannot be said to be short of cricket acumen or nerve or concentration.

Trott's composure may be a little eerie, his preparations before receiving each ball a ritualistic hell to everyone else involved in a Test match, but the results are no less than astonishing. He has played 14 Tests starting with his debut century at The Oval in 2009, has scored four hundreds and four fifties, and when he takes arguably the most elaborate, infuriating, and some might even say ill-mannered guard in the history of the game, no one can protest that there is an excess of ado about something really not that much.

The figures provide stunning vindication for the 29-year-old, who was yesterday reiterating his claim that if the Australians think they can sledge him into the kind of emotional eruption that led to a fracas with one of the Pakistani tourists last summer, they would probably be better off humming "Waltzing Matilda".

Only four batsmen in the history of cricket have finished their Test careers with a superior average to the one owned by Trott after the three-run improvement brought by his impressive century at the weekend.

Bradman, of course, was one of them with his uncanny 99.94. In second place, but now under the most severe threat from his former compatriot, is Graeme Pollock, who played just 23 Tests before the anti-apartheid boycott took hold.

His batting was dynamic and beautiful, inspiring Bradman to say that Pollock and Gary Sobers were the best left-handers he had ever seen. The South African's numbers were 60.97. In third place is the West Indian George Headley (60.83), followed by the relentless Yorkshireman Herbert Sutcliffe (60.70.) Then there is Trott, closing fast, if you will forgive the expression, on 59.95.

He says he doesn't fret about averages, as Geoffrey Boycott did at almost every waking moment, or think about perceptions like the one that says England won a crashing moral victory in Brisbane, but simply the chance to go out and bat in the most competitive circumstances.

From wherever he receives his messages, there is no doubt about the thrust of the advice.

It is to shut out everything but the business of building each innings he plays shot by shot, run by run. All else – sledging, crowd noise, dreamy views of the cathedral here – cannot be allowed to exist.

The launching of his career in England underpinned the idea of a man operating out on his own terrain. In his first game for Warwickshire seconds he amassed 245, his debut in the county side brought a knock of 134 and in his first Test it was 41 and 119.

Occupying the crease so long and so profitably at The Gabba, he says, was "very good, very pleasing, and should be helpful here, where we can't assume it will be a batting paradise".

Did he think an additional bonus was the possible knockout blow to Australia's most troubled strike bowler, Mitchell Johnson, who many here feel will be left out when the team is announced tomorrow morning?

"I don't bother with that kind of thing," said Trott, "I just do what I'm told, bat where I'm told and try to do my best at the things I can control."

Trott insists he has some earthling tendencies. They include much anticipation for the arrival in Perth later this month of his wife, Abi, the grand-daughter of former Warwickshire captain Tom Dollery, and their new baby, Lily. He says this with great formality but claims he is indeed working on a dimension beyond the batting crease, saying: "When I was young I wasn't too good at putting cricket in perspective but lately I've done better in terms of finding a balance between life and sport."

Meanwhile, Clarke, who doesn't exactly occupy the basement of batting averages with 14 centuries, 19 fifties and a world-class mark of 48.91, was receiving a public tutorial from Ponting. The captain said: "We have played together a long time and it is natural for us to talk about things occasionally. I was batting in the net next to him and I heard a few snicks behind me, so we did a bit of work together."

Clarke seemed particularly grateful after his ordeal in Brisbane – where he made possibly the most painful nine runs in his entire career before nicking the 50th ball he received, from Steve Finn, into Matt Prior's gloves – as Ponting put down his own bat and launched a brief but intense throwdown session. At the end of it, Clarke said: "I feel a lot better now. Ricky thought I needed to stand up a little more in my stance and it does feel right."

Trott's time in the nets was much less eventful. He didn't seek or receive any assistance – except, maybe, a bleep or two from who knew where.

Suggested Topics
Sport
Laura Trott with her gold
Commonwealth GamesJust 48 hours earlier cyclist was under the care of a doctor
Life and Style
Upright, everything’s all right (to a point): remaining on one’s feet has its health benefits – though in moderation
HealthIf sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode
arts + ents
News
Orville and Keith Harris. He covered up his condition by getting people to read out scripts to him
People
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
France striker Loic Remy
sportThe QPR striker flew to Boston earlier in the week to complete deal
Arts and Entertainment
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman
arts + entsFilmmaker posted a picture of Israeli actress Gal Gadot on Twitter
Sport
Vincenzo Nibali rides into Paris on the final stage of the 2014 Tour de France
Tour de FranceVincenzo Nibali is first Italian winner since Marco Pantani in 1998
News
Bryan had a bracelet given to him by his late father stolen during the raid
people
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Pedro Pascal gives a weird look at the camera in the blooper reel
arts + entsPrince Oberyn nearly sets himself on fire with a flaming torch
News
Danny Nickerson, 6, has received 15,000 cards and presents from well-wishers around the world
newsDanny loves to see his name on paper, so his mother put out a request for cards - it went viral
Arts and Entertainment
Zoe Saldana stars in this summer's big hope Guardians of the Galaxy
filmHollywood's summer blockbusters are no longer money-spinners
Sport
Red Bull Racing's Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo (C) celebrates with Scuderia Ferrari's Spanish driver Fernando Alonso (L) and Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton
sport
Arts and Entertainment
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Public vote: Art Everywhere poster in a bus shelter featuring John Hoyland
art
Arts and Entertainment
Judd Apatow’s make-it-up-as-you-go-along approach is ideal for comedies about stoners and slackers slouching towards adulthood
filmComedy was dominated by the romcom at its most insufferable
Sport
Tour de France competitor Bartosz Huzarski’s legs have highlighted the gruelling nature of the race, after he posted a picture on Facebook showing extremely prominent veins stretching from his feet and all the way up his legs
Commonwealth Games
Life and Style
Elle Kaye demonstrates the art of taxidermy
food + drinkFood revolution taken a step further in new ‘edible taxidermy’ class
News
A rub on the tummy sprang Casey back to life
video
Sport
Halsall broke her personal best in the 50m butterfly
Commonwealth GamesEnglish swimmer is reborn after disastrous time at London 2012
Arts and Entertainment
O'Shaughnessy pictured at the Unicorn Theatre in London
tvFiona O'Shaughnessy explains where she ends and her strange and wonderful character begins
Life and Style
Workers in Seattle are paid 100 times as much as workers in Bangladesh
fashionSeattle company lets customers create their own clothes, then click 'buy' and wait for delivery
Arts and Entertainment
Red Bastard: Where self-realisation is delivered through monstrous clowning and audience interaction
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
booksForget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Voices
The Express offices in the 1930s when writers (such as Orwell) were paid around £2 weekly
voicesWebsites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
A cut above: Katy Guest at The Ginger Pig
food + drinkThe Ginger Pig's hands-on approach to primary cuts
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried