Selectors Anxious To Get Trott Back in the Fold


First of all, apologies for my absence over the last few days. I found myself trapped in a bizarre world in which frustrated actors walking around in animal costumes are idolised. That’s one way of looking at Eurodisney anyway.

On my return yesterday the breaking news in English cricket – a world in which frustrating administrators walk around in suits but are idolised only by themselves – is that good old Jonathan Trott is apparently returning to international cricket with the Lions.

This development took me by complete surprise. Firstly, I never expected Trott to appear in England colours again. Even if he can trust himself to get through a long international tour, I wasn’t convinced the selectors would.

Secondly, Trott will be 34 by the time next year’s Ashes arrives. According to many of the ECB’s supporters, batsmen are over the hill at that age – particularly if they come with mental baggage.

However, such is fragility of England’s top order – particularly when it comes to strength in depth – that Trott’s unexpected return to the fold is good news. Of course, he’s got a long way to go before playing test cricket again, but it doesn’t seem so inconceivable now.

If Trott can emerge from the Lions tour to South Africa intact, score a few runs, and impress the watching eyes – which will presumably be monitoring where he sits at breakfast, who he shouts at from long leg, and most importantly, what he says about the alleged bullying culture alleged by a former teammate – then Trott might yet play against the Aussies next year.

I know what some of you are thinking: there’s no room in the new England team for Trott. Our new number three, Gary Ballance, was exceptional in the summer, Bell is entrenched at four, and Root pulled up trees at five. Then there’s the Beard to Be Revered at six. Trott would therefore be a reserve batsman at best.

However, I disagree. I actually think there’s one spot in the England team where a rejuvenated Trott could prove rather useful: opening the innings.

As our former number three, Trott is used to facing a new ball. After the summer of 2011, when England briefly became world number one, he often had to walk to the wicket early. Andrew Strauss lost form alarmingly in the last year of his career and then Alastair Cook’s batting fell off a cliff.

There is also a well publicised vacancy alongside the skipper. Sam Robson is unlikely to play in the Windies next year and although Adam Lyth has been mooted as a possible replacement, nobody knows whether England’s management actually rate the bloke, or whether his face will fit in the dressing room. Trott on the other hand is a known quantity with a good track record.

The problem for Trott is that opening the batting against his tormentor, Mitchell Johnson, isn’t going to be easy. Were his problems against Johnson mental (a symptom of his anxiety related issues) or technical? Trott’s record against top class pace bowling isn’t brilliant.

At least if he opens, Trott will walk to the crease with a friend, rather than stewing on the balcony before he bats. What’s more, Cook and Trott have forged a number of useful partnerships over the years. Maybe they can help each other?

It’s also possible that the new atmosphere in the England dressing room will help Trott. One of the alleged bullies, Graeme Swann, is no longer around. What’s more, Trott might benefit from Peter Moores’ more relaxed approach. I don’t doubt Moores is still something of a woodpecker, but he’s surely more relaxed and cuddly than the iron fisted Flower.

Talking of England’s former head coach, it still seems utterly bizarre to me that he’ll be leading the Lions to South Africa. When Trott walks into that dressing room it will feel like the good / bad old days to him.

One hopes, of course, that Trott has been recalled for proper cricketing reasons. In the light of recent bullying allegations, cynics might suggest Trott’s inclusion in the Lions squad is simply an attempt by Flower and the ECB to keep old friends close and potential PR threats even closer.

However, I severely doubt anyone would be this cruel. To dangle the carrot of an international recall in front of someone recovering from a mental illness would be beyond the pale if it were not entirely genuine, right?

James Morgan


  • Oh James, your not suggesting that the ECB could be that sinister are you?

    Our cuddly Uncle ECB be that horrible?

    I’m speechless…………..

  • I’m afraid that your last two paragraphs sum up my reaction to this news perfectly. There is no question that England need a solid opening batsman ( in fact we need two, but as we know, one spot is non-negotiable for the forseeable future ) and that Trott might fit the bill quite well, but I can’t help thinking . . . well, you know.
    And yes, of course they could be that cruel. They have never shown much public care or consideration for their players any more than for the public. Swann, Prior, KP, Flintoff, Broad, Rankin . . . and who knows how many others that we never became aware of – forced to play through injury and in some cases forced into an early retirement.

    They are stock to be flogged to the highest bidder, or to be used as a human shield. Is that a gross exaggeration? I really don’t see any evidence to the contrary…

  • Of course they would be that dishonest and sneaky.Seem to remember they promised Eoin Morgan great things if he didn’t go to the IPL and played county instead.They then pulled the rug out from under him.So why not Trotty ? .I don’t think Trotty should be anywhere near Andy Flower .Surely ECB wouldn’t just be trying to prove that Trotty’s problem had nothing to do with Flower and his coaching.No one could be that rotten could they?

    • Julie, yes they could be that rotten. If anyone thinks that Flower is not and will not be involved in day to day running of the team, is very sadly mistaken. Moore’s will just have to put up with it whether he agrees or not. It will reflect badly on him as he is the coach – isn’t he!!!!!!!!!.

  • I would love to know who the mysterious players were who were due to support KP’s bullying claims (according to George Dobell).

    If one of them was Trott, then this return to the fold definitely makes a lot of sense……….

  • Apologies for going off on a bit of a tangent here but well played Pakistan who have just completed a slightly jittery but very well deserved win over Australia in the 1st Test. (Let’s see how Australia respond before jumping to any conclusions about them – the Saffers lost their first test in UAE and were written off as overrated in some quarters but bounced back to win the second by an innings with a Graeme Smith double ton).

    Pakistan are a tough gig in the UAE but no side has done as badly there as England in 2011/12. It strikes me how that series is virtually never mentioned in the mainstream media – it is almost as if it never happened. Three explanations seem possible – 1) it doesn’t fit into the narrative of “unrivalled success under genius coach” so just has to be written out of the history books like some fallen member of Stalin’s Politburo 2) they view the result as illegimate because of Ajmal (ignoring the facts that we don’t know if Ajmal’s action changed 2012-14 or that Abdur Rehman took 19 wickets at under 20 in that series so who’s to say Pakistan wouldn’t have won with a replacement spinner for Ajmal – like Zulfiqar or Yasir here – anyway?) 3) it wasn’t against Australia or India and these are the only matches that matter now.

    None of these explanations reflect very well on the media.

    • Australia fell to the Pakistani spinners in much the same way as England fell to Ajmal in 2012 — missing straight balls while playing for turn that was seldom there. In England’s case it was failing to adjust their game for the change in umpire behaviour caused by the DRS — in the past, you seldom got given out if you got a big enough stride forward. Plus England persisted in trying to sweep balls that were on line with the stumps — meaning LBW was inevitable if they missed.

      Zulfiqar Babar looks like he should have been playing test cricket years ago rather than playing only his third test at the age of 35! In first-class cricket, he has taken about 350 wickets at an average of just over 20.

      Similarly, the other “new” Pakistani bowlers are all experienced at first-class level, with excellent records there.

  • Also, nice one from Vaughan on Twitter:

    Warne: “Showing some fight my friend. Something you poms could learn from “.
    Vaughan: “Plenty of Fighting from the England side … !!!!!!”

  • First, let me say that there is no one in English cricket for whom I have more affection than Jonathan Trott. I saw for myself at Horsham this year how graciously he interacts with members of the public, posing for selfies even when he must have been dying to get into the shower after scoring a century on a blistering hot day. Before the start of play on the first day, he even put up with a long pep talk from a member of the public who decided to give him the benefit of his amateur advice on dealing with stress-related illnesses. (I overheard most of this conversation, and I would have been tempted to tell the guy, however well meaning, that my paid professional advice was quite enough, thank you.) Even before this encounter, I thought of him as a lovable eccentric who was very much his own person.

    But Trott’s batting had been in decline for two-and-a-half years prior to his departure from the team after Brisbane. All the press cliches about “England’s rock at no.3” are based on his stellar performances in 2009-11. After that period, for he averaged in the mid-thirties and didn’t score a single century in a home test.

    In 2009 he averaged 55. In 2010, 66.25.

    In 2011 he averaged 40.55, in 2012 it was 38.65, and in 2013, 37.76.

    Furthermore, there is strong evidence that he had been “found out” by most of the world’s best bowlers even before his breakdown against Johnson.

    This is why I am particularly cynical about the motives behind his return to England colours, albeit just the Lions as yet. I strongly suspect that he was one of the players on the brink of coming out in support of Pietersen’s revelations, and that this is an attempt to dissuade him from doing so. At any rate, there is no persuasive cricketing reason for returning to him to the fold.

    I’ve already mentioned my reasons for suspecting that the passages about Trott in KP’s book were agreed with JT in advance, and may have even been included on his insistence.

    • And, from memory, Trott has a pretty poor record against SA (this winter’s Lions opponents) so I wouldn’t expect miracles.
      On the other, wildly optimistic, hand – KP has set the early symptoms of Trott’s troubles back a few months to mid-2013. Supposing he was actually struggling inwardly for an even longer time, most of his decline in fact. And supposing he were now fine…

    • Hi Clive. Interesting comments as always. You’re right about Trott’s average declining, but the same is also true of Strauss, Cook and Pietersen. The whole batting order, with the possible exception of Bell (at home in the Ashes) and Prior (particularly in NZ), were somewhat in decline after 2011. We struggled to score 400 on a regular basis. More evidence, im my opinion, that the coaching staff were stale.

      • Prior’s good series in NZ masks the fact that he was in the steepest decline of all. Feb 2012 to Feb 2014 Prior averaged 35, scored just the one century and his Strike Rate collapsed (down by about 18).

        Bell also averaged under 40 in the same period (38 or 39 – virtually the same as Trott). Cook and KP both averaged 42.

  • The non-cynical view:
    I remember noticing that Flower was uncharacteristically upset when he announced Trott was going home, and Trott himself commented that it was an achievement to have got Flower to be emotional. Flower obviously likes him, as most people seem to, and perhaps is trying to help him back. He may even feel guilty.

    The cynical view:
    They know the supporters like Trott and will believe what he says. Trott has never openly blamed the Flower regime for his illness, but if he chose to he could back up the KP version of events and would give it a lot of credibility, so they want him back in the tent.

    Another view:
    Moores/Flower see Trott as a possible successor to Prior as the one who supports Cook’s captaincy and holds his hand. He may not be altogether in perfect health, but nor was Prior.

    • I’m glad you’ve given us alternative viewpoints, Zeph, as I’m struggling with the generally-held cynical one. I see Trott as too mature and too much his own man to be played so easily. If he felt that he was being manipulated, he’d give them both barrels, surely (says a man who’s never met him…!)

      • I dunno, Rooto, Trott maybe just wants to get back to playing at the top level as soon as he can and isn’t too bothered about motivations.

        In fact, he’s been playing well enough for his county to merit the selection anyway, hasn’t he? So another alternative is that he’s been knocking on the door saying ‘You know when you said I could come back as soon as I was well and scoring runs…?’

        One thing that’s emerged since he went home from Aus is that he must be one of the best-liked cricketers around. If the England management don’t take proper care of him this time there ‘ll be a riot.

      • Rooto,

        I’ll give you an alternative view – the conspiracies being thrown around on here are a load of old codswallop.
        Firstly, and most importantly, we have no idea what Trott’s view on the dressing room dynamics is. Everyone seems to have jumped to a conclusion that he’s about to come out and support KP based on very little evidence.
        Secondly, if he did seriously think that the dressing room, and more specifically Flower, were to blame for his illness in any way, shape or form, then surely he would quietly make himself unavailable for international cricket? At which point, he could, if he so chose, come out in support of KP? Funnily enough – neither of those have happened.
        Thirdly – let’s say he does support the gist of what KP said (and he absolutely might) – there are plenty of ways he could come out and say that without jeopardising his career:-

        “Yeah, I thought things probably went a bit too far at times, but that’s just because the guys were so committed to doing well and winning for England. But I’m sure it’ll be addressed – we all want to find that line between being aggressive in our cricket but still supporting everyone in the team at all times”.

        Or something similar. In any event, it would hardly be the most controversial thing that’s ever been said in English cricket history. It’s totally possible to be honest in a way that doesn’t burn bridges.

        And yes, as you say – let’s actually give Trott some credit for knowing his own mind and not being quite so easily manipulated.

        It’s simple. They’re hoping he gets back to his best, because if he does, he’s one of the best batsmen in the world. Whether it’s the right thing to do, or whether Trotty’s time has passed, is another question. But as everyone has pointed out, he’s one of the most respected figures in the game, and the fact that he feels well enough to come back and make himself available should be celebrated as a triumph against adversity.

  • I like Trott and am very pleased he has recovered and is playing good cricket again, but, I have no doubt whatsoever that this is a ploy by ecb to gag him. I don’t think it is going end well especially if he has a bad score. One way or another he could end up taking the blame to save cook yet again.

    Let’s face it flower is there for one reason only, to prop up cook who obviously needs people he trusts around him. I can think of a few players there who won’t stay silent for long, especially if their performances are called into question rather than cooks’. At least they are there on merit!.

    Having said that, i wish Trott and the new players have a good tour.

  • I know the cynical view is feasible, and I have no idea how low the ECB would sink to stave off some bad PR, but I think we have to acknowledge that a charitable view is possible and we can hope it might work out well.

    I’ve been reading KP’s book over the weekend, he does seem to lay the blame for Trott’s situation pretty squarely at the door of the dressing room. Maybe not for causing it, but certainly for exacerbating it. There was one part that really struck me, with the benefit of hindsight, where KP describes a match against Bangladesh in which Trott got so hacked off with the abuse from Prior et al that he shouted a stream of invective right back at them. It made me think “if a guy so universally well thought of as a nice quiet bloke as Jonathan Trott seems to be is reduced to that, then things must have been pretty bad.” I do wonder what role the dressing room environment played in Trott’s issues….

    But if KP’s view is more or less true (and of course, we should admit that we don’t know that) then things should be better in the England set up now- Swann is retired and Prior has fallen behind Buttler in the pecking order. Perhaps it’s a good time for Trott to come back?

    I also get the impression that Moores v2.0 is a slightly less authoritarian presence than Flower, which might be for the best. Yes, Flower is in charge of the Lions tour but a Lions tour is a rather less pressure cooker-like situation than an Ashes tour.

    I can see why they’d want Trott back from a cricketing perspective- we’re running out of time to blood a genuinely new opener before the ashes (particularly if the WI tour gets binned…)- perhaps it would be better to have a “known quantity” alongside Cook. I’m not totally convinced, but I suspect he’d do OK.

    Wish Trott all the best.

  • As much as I despise those running cricket, as if you haven’t guessed, I can’t bring myself to come to the utlra-cynical conclusion. It wouldn’t surprise me, but it isn’t likely.

    However, what does stick in my head was the way those really close to the thoughts of the hierarchy (we know who those journos are) were adamant, and I mean adamant, that there was no way back for Trott. We were told, quite forcibly, that his initial interview with Sky wasn’t cleared with ECB and they didn’t go along with it. Also, as well as those close to the dressing room, the ex-pros and spiteful bastards who inhabited the Telegraph columns went to town on him. No way back. No doubt.

    I’m less in the “we’re doing it to silence him” crowd, and more in the “everyone deserves a second chance” camp, and that by giving Trott a chance to get back in is seen as fair and enlightened, and hell, even a bit nice. If it goes well, it is a good news story, if it doesn’t, well, it doesn’t, but they gave it a go.

    Hope for the best.

  • Being an absolute cynic when it comes to the ECB. They will do anything, absolutely anything to shut up any player that might just blow the whistle on them all. Probably why they chose Trott for the Lions – give him an airing? Let’s face it, if this news got out into the wider world then of course heads would roll. Can’t have that, can we? The ECB must protect itself and keep its crumbling facade from totally falling into the sea! They sure know how to tell porkies and flout the law, power-grabb and money grab and still their faithful journos and ex-players support them wholeheartedly. I mean, how dare we criticise them? Yay right.

    Cynic? Me? Yay. I hold me hands up to that squire. They know exactly what they are doing and why. They haven’t brought back Prior into the fold have they so why Trott? Follow the money I say.

    • Your post made me wonder Annie…the ECB’s “dignified silence” strategy seems to be working? It’s all uncannily quiet….except on the boards!!

  • Interesting that I haven’t read a report today of the “South African born Trott”?? The BBC condescends with him suffering a “stress related illness” the nuanced question mark at the end of that phrase was probably edited?

  • How true! I remember when Pringle was going on and on and on about the “South African” and some of the posters were jumping on the bandwagon. So I put up the players – former and current – who were not born here. Boy that was a list. That shut up some of the usual suspects on the DT! It is interesting tho.

    You are right about the “dignified silence!” It has worked on one level. Of course on another level the ECB hasn’t had to say a thing given that their mates have all said it for them. Plus of course the “leaks” and dodgy “dossier!” I wouldn’t say the ECB has been clever, but rather underhanded. If they do not issue a statement: they cannot be questioned and they cannot be sued!

    I do believe that at some point the truth will come out! Giles Clarke may have been popular at one point but the tide is turning. His dodgy deals and wholesale take over of the ICC doesn’t really sit well with even those on the inside. And of course even Mr Agnew has had a pop at him about the “outsiders!” As far as Downton goes – the walking PR disaster – I think he may have been locked up the Tower of London! Not safe to let out at any time of the day or night, especially when there is a full moon!!! A great sweep out of all these miscreants is the only way forward IMO. Maybe with new people – especially if they are real bona fide cricket people, rather than the “wheelers & dealers” – they might just truly enter a “new era” of cricket.

    I won’t hold my breath that justice will be done and seen to be done.

    • Sadly Annie, the new Chief Exec is “an accomplished TV rights negotiator”. Which probably means he’ll try to squeeze more money out of Sky or BT, for an increasingly diminishing audience. In my view, the baby’s already been chucked out with the bath water, what else have they got to sell their souls for? Giles Clarke’s memoirs perhaps? ;-)


copywriter copywriting