Jonathan Trott has divided opinion from the moment he was picked for the final Test of the 2009 Ashes series. And the chances are he always will, be it because of his background (South African) or batting style (without frills or thrills).
One place where it is unlikely that even a fly on the wall would hear a negative comment about Trott is in the England dressing-room, however. Just about every team-mate has spoken about the super-glue qualities of their No 3, and most recently the equally in- form Alastair Cook.
"He has been a revelation for us," said the man who has spent more time with Trott over the past few months (and most of it in the middle) than he has with his own family. "The stats are phenomenal and having that rock at No 3 means our batting order is very settled."
It is impossible to argue with a word of that. Although Trott's hugely important innings of 119 against Australia two years ago was made at No 5, first wicket down is the perfect position for him. He will sit in the pavilion all day and watch the openers make hay without fretting for a moment – or stride out to face the second ball of the morning as though that was all part of the plan.
Nothing, it seems, can faze Trott and, as Cook said, the results have been quite remarkable. Currently playing his 19th Test, he has now banked six centuries with four of those coming in the last six matches. And by the time he reached 200 yesterday evening his average was above 69. Of all the people who have played 20 or more Tests, only one has finished with a higher mark – and Don Bradman (99.94) played a different game to everyone else. It's just that ... well, it's just that sometimes you wish Trott would nip into the nearest phone box, discard his England whites, come out dressed as Superman and start thrashing the ball to all parts. And yesterday was one of those occasions.
This first international of the season has been a test of everyone's patience, thanks to the generally miserable weather and a painfully slow pitch. But those few thousand hardy spectators who maintained concentration while Trott was taking 84 balls to add 27 runs to his overnight 125 deserved a medal.
He drew attention to himself just once during that spell, repaying Farveez Maharoof for a frivolous lbw appeal with an almost angry straight drive for four. Otherwise, though, Trott did what he does so well – chugging along without putting a foot wrong.
Most of Trott's hundreds have helped to engineer England wins (and the one in Brisbane, which contributed hugely to a draw, was perhaps the most important of all) so it is hardly surprising that those closest to him will be perfectly happy if he carries on in exactly the same vein.
But wouldn't it be great if he found himself able to throw all caution to the wind. Just once.
* A Sri Lankan cricketer, believed to be one-day opener Upul Tharanga, is expected to face an International Cricket Council inquiry after apparently failing a drugs test during the recent World Cup.
Tharanga, 26, who made an unbeaten century during his country's 10-wicket quarter-final thrashing of England, is said to have tested positive for prednisolone, a drug that is used to treat asthma but features on the banned substances list.
Tharanga, who has not played Test cricket for three years, is not a member of Sri Lanka's current tour party but would be a certainty for the one-day squad later this summer.Reuse content