One Day International: Trott’s way too hot to drop
in the parlour game to choose England's best one-day team of the moment, the one that might actually win the World Cup, it is fashionable to ignore Jonathan Trott.
Too limited, too selfish, too hesitant, too slow and, they might as well say, too bald.
There is something about Trott as a limited-overs batsman that does not seem to add up. Except, that is, the most important component in a batsman's armoury, his runs. They amount to something substantial and in a career which so far spans 15 innings he has made six fifties and two hundreds, of which the second came yesterday.
It was, as always with Trott, assiduously crafted, never elegant, invariably ordered, and it provided the platform on which England built their first victory of the one-day series against Australia on Australia Day.
With the score at |3-1 and three to play, the tourists, who had seemed on the verge of falling apart at the seams, effected some emergency stitching and have at least prolonged the Commonwealth Bank Series until the Brisbane match on Sunday.
The victory was as efficient as the three consecutive losses preceding it had been lackadaisical.
It undoubtedly helped the cause that the England captain Andrew Strauss won his fourth successive toss because any score above 250 in Adelaide has usually (on 20 of 24 occasions) been too much for the chasing side. The tricky part, in view of England's batting hitherto in the series, was getting to that total and beyond.
That they managed to reach 299 for eight, albeit not quite seamlessly, also justified an oddly balanced team selection. England picked seven batsmen with the out-of-form Paul Collingwood, once a scion of the blue riband one-day positions at four, five and six, at number seven.
It meant that they had only four specialist bowlers, a category which included Mike Yardy, with Collingwood and Trott as the fifth and sixth fillers-in.
If it looked high risk, by the time England had won by 21 runs, it could be appreciated as a tactical masterstroke. England read the pitch, Australia did not, although it is always more straightforward when you have batted first and made a healthy total.
England's part-time bowlers contributed three wickets in their combined 20 overs and Trott, for whom everything went right, took two for 31, his first wickets in international cricket.
“It was a far better performance than in the first three games and any time anyone gets a hundred you're in the game and most times you win, and that was a very good hundred,” said Strauss.
“Matt Prior gave us real impetus at the top and showed what he can do. There were too many soft dismissals but it was always going to be a very competitive total.”
Trott's second-wicket partnership of 113 with Prior was the base that England needed.
The route to their total was littered with pratfalls. There was a stumble when three top-order wickets went for 22 runs in mid-innings and too many dismissals were not earned so much as offered on a silver platter. Neither Ian Bell nor Kevin Pietersen are playing as might have been expected, Eoin Morgan once more played an aberrant shot.
For England to have a realistic chance of winning the World Cup, let alone winning the next three matches to prevail in this series, that cannot continue.
The goodish news was that Collingwood made 27 from 27 balls.
By now Trott, whose one-day batting average is 54, has presumably made the number three place in the World Cup his own.
This was an ideal position for him, coming in early and being allowed to dictate his own terms, especially with Prior blazing away at the other end.
There was only one blot on the innings, a mild hint that the field might have been obstructed at one stage when going for a run, a question posed to the umpires by Aussie captain Michael Clarke.
In his innings of 89 in the previous match, Trott had veered off course to prevent the ball reaching the stumps and he went for a run. He played the innocent quite convincingly last night but he had better let not too much evidence pile up because reputations in cricket are built quickly.
“I turned around figuring I was trying to hit the ball,” he said. “But I thought if I hit it I might hit it on to the stumps so I left it. And then I turned round I heard Matt and I turned right into Brett Lee. I didn't see him coming, he came like a freight train.”
The England batting still needs attention but the man most in danger of being dropped at the start of this series is now undroppable.