Monday, 23 November 2009

Trott's colours nailed firmly to the England mast

JONATHAN TROTT'S creed, his mantra, may help to explain how he is able to return to Newlands, Cape Town's magnificent cricketing bowl in the shadow of Table Mountain, with such confidence... batting, if you'll pardon the expression, for the other side.
The former Western Province batsman - perhaps we should call him an all-rounder after his performance in the second One-Day International triumph over South Africa on Sunday - plays at his old home ground for the tourists on Friday expressing this philosophy: "I'm always trying to better myself."
So far, Trott (pictured) is successfully treading the path broken so controversially by Pietermaritzburg-born Kevin Pietersen in 2005. And he is bettering himself with every innings
Trott scored 87 at Centurion over the weekend to help Paul Collingwood put England 1-0 up in the five-match ODI series after the opening game at The Wanderers on Friday was monsooned-off.
He also bowled seven overs for 21 runs, earning Ian Botham's heartfelt praise: "As an all-rounder, he was a revelation."
And who can forget his Test debut in the summer when, with KP in hospital and Ricky Ponting on the sledge, he scored 41 and 119 in the final Test at The Oval against Australia to help seal the Ashes for his adopted country? Instant runs, instant confidence at the heart of the storm.
Between those two innings, while he was mysteriously left out of the one-day humiliation against the Aussies, he was accused by former captain Michael Vaughan of celebrating with the South Africans after their Test series win in England last year, a week after being 12th man for the home side.
Nasty stuff which put huge pressure on a tour rookie, but it sold books, I guess.
Ian Jonathan Leonard Trott, who also managed 33 and 51 in the drawn Twenty20 series last week, appears unfazed. He says before Friday's showdown in the town of his birth: "It adds a little edge to it for me. But I'm going to have to put the emotions of coming back here to one side. Everyone wants to play at Lord's and the SCG but for me, I always wanted to come and play back at Newlands and be part of a winning England side."
So South Africans - including coach Mickey Arthur who insists Trott wouldn't make his current top six batters - can now rearrange these words into a commonly used phrase: "Colours, mast, nailed, firmly, the, to."
Promoted to opener in place of Kent's Joe Denly, Warwickshire's Trott, whose father Ian coaches in Leatherhead, nails things down still further, insisting in his still-heavy Seffeffriken accent: "I'm really happy to be sitting here part of an England team which has just won in South Africa.
"It's just the same as when I walked out against Australia in that first Test match. I try not to get too wound up about it. I just try to bring my Warwickshire processes into playing for England. Just like all the other guys in the team, I'm always trying to better myself."
Let's just get the Trott story right. Yes, he went to Rondebosch High on the slopes of Table Mountain. Yes, he attended Stellenbosch University, home of the Afrikaner intellectual and yes, he captained South Africa's Under 19s.
But like so many others in South Africa, he grew up with the knowledge that his grandparents were solidly British. England were not necessarily the enemy. Remember Basil D'Oliveira, Tony Greig, Robin Smith and Allan Lamb had gone there before, not to mention Zola Budd and Gary Bailey, long before KP. It's tough to understand that if you haven't lived over there.
Trott's two early Twenty20s against the West Indies in 2007 didn't go too well but after averaging 90 in the County game last year, he was always going to be the next up once Pietersen had gone down with an Achilles problem and Ravi Bopara had failed one too many times.
Forget Mark Ramprakash and Marcus Trescothick, at 28, Trott had to be the future. Has been ever since he made his debut for the Warwickshire 2nd XI in 2002 and scored 245. A year later he scored 134 on his first team debut. And along the way he grabbed a seven-wicket haul with the seamers the South Africans failed to deal with last Sunday.
Trottsky is likely to be joined the fit-again Pietersen, Matt Prior and Andrew Strauss over the coming weeks. But, like the other three South African-born Englishmen, he has nailed those colours to the mast.
The man who came through the South African schoolboy ranks with currently injured Jacques Kallis, Protea's captain Graeme Smith, Herschelle Gibbs - recalled to the South African side today - and Ashwell Prince leaves no room for doubt: "I won't let any outside emotions affect my decision-making on the field. I'm looking forward to contributing to another win. For England."

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