The man in danger of being quietly forgotten by England came bursting back into the consciousness yesterday. Jonathan Trott scored a pristine hundred in the first Test against Bangladesh which was imbued throughout with the message that he intends to go nowhere quietly whatever his detractors say – and they have said plenty.
Since last August, when he scored a maiden Test century against Australia and was reluctantly feted as an Ashes hero, Trott's star has waned. For those few days at The Oval he could do no wrong – even a photograph of him being run out in the first innings won an award for the world sport picture of the year – but as the winter wore on he could do no right.
He was not making runs, he began to fret that he was not making runs, sometimes he looked apart from the team. Eventually, he was dropped from the one-day and Twenty20 teams and his last Test in Bangladesh was marked by a determinedly studious first innings, a rank bad umpiring decision in the second and the dropping of one of the all-time great dolly catches. Could this fellow, it was being not so much whispered as barked from the roof tops, really cut it at Test level?
The response of 175 not out in an England total of 362 for four was not overwhelmingly conclusive. Bangladesh's bowling was much too tame for that. There will be lying in wait more disciplined sides with deeper talent who may more easily deconstruct his batting style, tall, frightening men who make the ball bounce from a length. But of this there was none yesterday. From his first scoring stroke, a carve for four through backward point, Trott was master of his destiny.
There were some slightly untypical handsome cover drives and the whole innings was marked with authority. It was, as it happened, a solitary example on the opening day of the Test season of how a Test innings should be assembled – with due diligence, but ever willing and ready to hit the bad ball, of which there were quite enough on a characteristic pitch not designed to give the bowlers much cause for optimism.
Of the other top five batsmen only the returning captain Andrew Strauss made a half-century and while he is not the type to hurl bats around changing rooms he might have done so in his imagination. On the eve of the match, Strauss, in assessing how England had to improve, had adduced the need to score big hundreds.
He had not yet scored a small one but he had done all the hard work when he was out, chopping on a ball that was probably too close to cut. Strauss will have been the more irked for having survived the only tough part of the day when the ball jagged about in the morning under cloudy conditions.
Bangladesh did not bowl as well as they should have done in these circumstances when constant accuracy and slight movement can induce mistakes. Too much of their bowling was harmless and wayward. None of their seamers looked properly worthy of Test status. Their only wicket in the morning session was that of Alastair Cook, out leg before to a ball from Shahadat Hossain which nipped back, was almost certainly too high and was almost identical to a ball that had hit him in the same spot in the previous over and elicited a not-out verdict.
For a few minutes after Strauss's dismissal following a second-wicket partnership of 181, it seemed as though an unexpectedly healthy crowd of around 16,000 would be treated to some vintage strokeplay from Kevin Pietersen. If there is no more splendid sight in Test cricket it is perhaps no more than they deserved.
Ticket prices were reduced for the match by an average of a third from the Test last May but the investment still demanded the triumph of optimism over probable experience. It provided evidence that Test cricket can endure in England if it can survive anywhere. Everybody knows that Bangladesh are not quite the real Test deal but the allure of Lord's, highly competent marketing and the simple belief that the longer form still somehow possesses its own magic brought them in.
Pietersen played three thumping strokes, all through the off-side. But then he perished as he has done so often before, his ambition overcoming him. His drive against Shakib al Hasan's left-arm spin was as grotesque as it was flamboyant but maybe that is to give too little credit to an adroit piece of bowling. Shakib saw him coming, held the ball back and saw it turn through the gate. Left-arm spinners dream of such things.
As the sun came out Bangladesh's cricket in the business area became more precise with Mohammad Mahmudullah and Shakib being especially efficient. Ian Bell was bowled by the best delivery of the day, improbably from Rubel Hossain, which cut sharply back down the slope.
By the close England were rattling along once more and there was time for Eoin Morgan to demonstrate that he might indeed have the temperament for Test cricket. Included for his debut in a side containing six batsmen, he might have been arriving at 400 for four and able to bat while sipping mint juleps but there was, in the event, work to do and he was inclined to do it. His first boundary did not arrive until his 27th ball, restraint indeed, though it came from a switch hit. Today might be his day but yesterday belonged firmly to Trott.
Key moments from the first day
11.19 Alastair Cook, having made all England's runs thus far, becomes the first (dodgy) victim of the Test. The ball to which he was lbw was going well over the top.
11.23 To the 14th ball of his return after missing the Bangladesh and West Indies trips, England captain Andrew Strauss gets off the mark with a scuffed single.
11.31 Strauss is clearly settled in: his second scoring shot is a pulled six.
12.55 Jonathan Trott, having been in command of the crease from the start, reaches 50 from his 75th ball.
2.54 Strauss surprises everyone by chopping on a ball from Mahmudullah, having survived an optimistic shout for a catch behind off the arm the previous ball.
3.05 Kevin Pietersen announces himself with a sumptuous, crunching drive through the covers. Could this be his big time return to Tests at last?
3.09 Trott arrives at his second Test hundred, off only 133 balls.
3.28 Pietersen was flattering to deceive after all as a misjudged cover drive is pierced through the gate and he is bowled.
5.10 Morgan, pulling ferociously, hits Imrul Kayes on the side of the helmet at short leg. It is a fearful blow but although he departs the field he looks unharmed.
5.20 Morgan, the entertainer, hits his first boundary from his 27th ball.
5.40 Trott reaches his first Test score above 150.
Lord's (First day of five): England have scored 362 runs for four wickets
Bangladesh won toss
England: First Innings
*A J Strauss b Mahmudullah 83, 129 balls 8 fours 1 six
A N Cook lbw b Hossain 7, 13 balls 1 four
I J L Trott not out 175, 270 balls 17 fours
K P Pietersen b Al Hasan 18, 29 balls 3 fours
I R Bell b Hossain 17, 36 balls
E J G Morgan not out 40, 69 balls 2 fours
Extras (lb 7, w 5, nb 10) 22
Total (4 wkts, 90 overs) 362
Fall: 1-7 (Cook), 2-188 (Strauss), 3-227 (Pietersen), 4-258 (Bell).
To bat †M J Prior, T T Bresnan, G P Swann, J M Anderson, S T Finn.
Bowling S Hossain 17-2-66-1 (w1 nb1) (6-2-17-1, 2-0-11-0, 4-0-18-0, 2-0-9-0, 2-0-9-0), R Islam 14-2-80-0 (nb3) (4-1-19-0, 2-0-12-0, 5-1-29-0, 3-0-21-0), S Al Hasan 19-1-71-1 (5-0-18-0, 1-1-0-0, 6-0-31-0, 3-0-3-1, 4-0-19-0), R Hossain 16-0-74-1 (w4 nb2) (5-0-26-0, 1-0-1-0, 2-0-12-0, 2-0-13-0, 5-0-14-1), M Mahmudullah 23-3-59-1 (1-0-1-0, 22-3-58-1), M Ashraful 1-0-5-0 (one spell).
Progress First day: 50 in 14.1 overs, 100 in 24.4 overs, Lunch 105-1 (Strauss 40, Trott 50) 27 overs, 150 in 36.2 overs, 200 in 45 overs, Tea 231-3 (Trott 107, Bell 3) 56 overs, 250 in 64.2 overs, 300 in 78.1 overs, 350 in 88 overs, Close of play 362-4 (Trott 175, Morgan 40) 90 overs. Trott: 50 75 balls, 5 fours. 100 133 balls 12 fours, 150 243 balls 14 fours. Strauss: 50 86 balls 4 fours 1 six.
Bangladesh Tamim Iqbal, Imrul Kayes, Junaid Siddique, Jahurul Islam, Mohammad Ashraful, *Shakib Al Hasan, †Mushfiqur Rahim, Mahmudullah, Shahadat Hossain, Robiul Islam, Rubel Hossain.
Umpires B F Bowden (NZ) & E A R de Silva (S Lanka).
TV replay umpire R K Illingworth.
Match referee A G Hurst (Aus).Reuse content