Jonathan Trott: Just don't call him the new Pietersen
Born in Cape Town, the batsman played for the Proteas before he came to England. As his stunning form wins him a place in the Ashes squad, he wants the world to know he has a style all his own
Wednesday 05 August 2009
For someone related to the only batsman to have cleared the pavilion at Lord's with a towering hit from centre stage, Jonathan Trott comes across as a down-to-earth cricketer. Another South African he may be, but this is no Kevin Pietersen in terms of making big, bold statements.
Called into England's squad of 14 for Friday's fourth Test against Australia at Headingley, Trott is only likely to play if Andrew Flintoff doesn't. And even the absence of the mighty all-rounder will not guarantee the new boy his first cap because the hosts could reshuffle their existing pack by promoting Stuart Broad to No 7.
But at least we now know the state of the pecking order when it comes to England batsmen, and with Ian Bell back in the side while Pietersen recovers from an Achilles operation, Trott – rather than Owais Shah, Rob Key or Joe Denly – is the next cab off the rank.
Whether he should be or not probably depends more on your view of international qualification rules than any concern about his run-making credentials.
Like the Pietermaritzburg-born Pietersen, Trott was born and bred in South Africa (Cape Town) and he played three Under-19 "Tests" for his old country in 1999 – with Graeme Smith and Jacques Rudolph among his team-mates – before deciding to move to England.
The now 28-year-old Warwickshire batsman is a distant relative of Albert Trott, who himself switched horses by first appearing in three Tests for Australia and then a couple for England just before unleashing his unique hit at Lord's while representing MCC.
But the fact that Trott the younger has British grandparents proved much more interesting to Warwickshire, who were able to sign him as a non-overseas player in 2003. And, by the end of 2006, he was not only England-qualified but also just about England-ready. In theory, at least.
The decision to pick Trott for a couple of Twenty20 internationals against West Indies in 2007 proved spectacularly unsuccessful. He made 11 runs in two innings, never had a look-in during the 50-over matches that followed and, by midsummer, was eased back into county cricket.
Talk of England finding "the new KP" – which Trott never liked for a minute – ended abruptly and, just as with last summer's ill-fated move to summon the Aussie-bred paceman Darren Pattinson to Headingley for a Test against South Africa, most people thought that was that.
Trott, however, reckoned otherwise. "I didn't have the best of times but I sat down at the end of that season with our newly appointed coach, Ashley Giles, and set about making a plan to get back into international cricket and then be successful at that level," he said. "Everything has gone really well and I'm looking for it to continue."
Certainly, England had not lost interest. Trott has been sent on a couple of A tours, and if he did feel uncomfortable in strange surroundings in 2007 then those trips have helped him to understand the system.
"It's helped that I've been involved with the A side over the last two winters, and getting to meet everyone – not just the players but also the backroom staff – makes going into the changing room a lot easier," he said after taking a call from national selector Geoff Miller. "The last two winters with the Lions have been a massive eye-opener into how it works and I'm really excited to be going to Headingley.
"I had a little taste in 2007 and I hope to use the experience gained there. And if selected I hope to be able to contribute to England winning the Ashes."
Not quite KP-style in terms of throwing down the gauntlet. But each to their own. "Kevin has done really well but I don't try to imitate anyone," said Trott. "I know my game and I know my strengths and what makes me a good player. If selected I'll be pretty confident and, hopefully, I can perform."
He is certainly looking a fine player this season. After nine First Division Championship matches for Warwickshire, the strongly built right-hander averages just a shade under 100 and his three centuries have all been turned into knocks of 150-plus. That is the sort of stuff selectors like.
It is what Cape Town-born coach Andy Flower has taken note of, for sure, rather than Trott's roots.
"He has committed himself to Warwickshire and to English cricket, and has been committed for quite a while," said Flower. "He has already played a couple of Twenty20 games for England, has been on Lions [A] tours and has been in that Warwickshire dressing room for a long time. It does not worry me.
"I was involved [as assistant coach] when he last played for England and I thought he fitted in fine. If it was the case [that he felt an outsider], it won't be the case again."
Brummie Bok: Jonathan Trott details
Age: 27 Born: 22 April, 1981 in Cape Town, South Africa. Played in U15 and U19 World Cups for South Africa.
First team debut for Warwickshire in 2003 v Sussex. First-class stats: 129 games, 8, 204 runs at 43.87; 50 wickets at 45.68. Hit 1,000 runs in four of the last five seasons. Two T20 internationals in 2007, 11 runs at 5.5.
This season: 798 runs at 99.75 in nine Championship games, including 3 hundreds. PCA Most Valuable Player for T20 Cup.
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