Considering England were one delivery from defeat, the amount of time taken by Jonathan Trott in preparing to face each of the 329 balls he received during his eight hours at the crease in Centurion could be considered crucial to the outcome. Especially if you are Graeme Smith.
In the aftermath of Sunday's dramatic draw, the South African captain criticised Trott for his fidgety style as he readies himself to face the bowling, following on from an earlier complaint about his former compatriot during the one-day series.
"It's been a constant thing throughout the one-dayers and the Tests," Smith said. "I'm all for a batter taking their time – I'm not the quickest at the crease – but when a bowler has to constantly keep stopping and reassessing throughout the game it gets a bit frustrating. It's a second here and there for him to make a better effort to improve the pace of the game – which is what everyone wants."
But Trott is not for changing. "I've never really had any complaints before," he said in Durban, where the England squad yesterday began preparations for the second Test on Boxing Day. "It's one of those things I do to get myself prepared and make sure I'm in the right frame of mind to help contribute to the England side."
His contribution in only his second Test could not be faulted for time spent in the middle, and his 69 in the second innings, as part of a partnership of 145 with Kevin Pietersen, to follow his Ashes debut century in August, furthered belief that England have found a long-term solution to their problem No 3 position. And, as with each player, the routine adopted at the crease is a fundamental part of any successful run.
"I don't play cricket to get under people's skin – I play to be effective," Trott said. "I have my things I do to get myself ready for battle. Maybe it can mess with their over rate or whatever, but it's just what I do – and I won't be changing it. It's what's got me to this position to be able to play for England. I won't be trying to do anything different to what I know best."
Scoring runs on what is his home turf has also proved something to savour for the Cape Town-born batsman. "I've worked so hard towards it," he said. "You always wonder what it will feel like if one day you have the opportunity to play a Test match back in South Africa. I gave it my all and enjoyed the whole experience – and look forward to a few more, I hope.
"I know a few of the guys who I played at school with and against. But this is Test match cricket, something you've always strived to do and want to do to the best of your ability. So whenever you cross that line, it's back to business – trying to gain any advantage you can and win every game you can for England."
It was Trott's fall – to a brute of a ball from the belatedly impressive debutant Friedel de Wet – that sparked England's nerve-jarring late collapse that came so close to ending in embarrassing defeat. Trott spent the final hour watching on TV as he iced a finger that had been hurt in his dismissal.
"It's quite hard because there's a bit of a delay by about 10 seconds – so you actually hear the roar while you're waiting for the ball to be bowled," he said. "If there's no roar, you know it's a dot ball. I was sitting out the back with Graeme Swann – and it was a bit nerve-racking towards the end. But the team showed good spirit and guts to get through it. The mood in the camp is pretty good now."Reuse content