By Venkataraman Ganesan
Jonathan Trott embodies a rare element of fastidiousness that is uniquely his; fastidiousness, the presence of which doubles up as a more than formidable compromise against a complete absence of flair and flamboyance. This meticulousness ably aided by an enviable degree of concentration has transformed Trott into a monotonous wrecking machine that is the scourge of many a hapless bowling attack, irrespective of playing conditions.
Arguably, Trott has to be one of the most intimidating gum-chewing batsmen plying his wares around the cricket grounds of the world today (the distinction of being the most intimidating gum chewing willow wielder ever has to be the sole prerogative of Sir Viv Richards). A standout ability of this grit and grime cricketer, who currently has to his credit, 100 First-Class scores of 50 or more, is maintaining a temperament that is unruffled. Impervious to factors such as brilliant bowling and boisterous banter, Trott is the epitome of steely unconcern. Unobtrusively going about the role designated to him, obliterating the extraneous, he lends to himself the portrayal of a philosopher. A logician, who behind the visor of a metal and chrome helmet, might as well be mulling about Newton’s second law of Thermodynamics or contemplating an alternative variation of the Fermat Theorem instead of gearing himself up to facing a fast one from Brett Lee.
Carved out in the mould of a Steve Waugh, Trott nurtures and nourishes the philosophy of grinding the opposition to dust by employing measured means rather than resorting to marauding tactics. A thinking cricketer who is fixed in his determination but never fixated with style. In an age of instant gratification where strike rates obfuscate averages, it is very convenient to forget the contribution of Jonathan Trott — a contribution which to England has been both indispensable and inevitable. Coming in at the vital position of No.3, he forms the very bedrock around which the English batting revolves.
In addition to being an adept driver and a sweet timer of the cricket ball, he is also a very good judge of the swinging delivery. Possessing an uncharacteristic ‘forward’ and across movement, he paints a deceptive picture of a susceptible leg before candidate. But a phenomenal degree of balance ensures that more often than not, the ball is met and middled by the centre of the blade rather than thudding into the pad. Although not possessing the wide array of strokes that is the hall mark of some of his compatriots such as the prolific Cook and the sublime Bell, he can be a murderer of balls pitched even slightly straight on the off or middle stump. The offending deliveries are whipped or flicked through the midwicket or square-leg regions with delectable consistency. Comfortable against both pace and guileful spin, Trott has on occasions been the sole stationary object as batsman after batsman have departed in a procession of misery.
Although firmly suited to the purist’s version of the game, this gutsy right hander has adapted commendably to the shorter version as well. Slow starts notwithstanding, he more than makes up for the pedestrian commencement with a late flurry. A more than respectable average of 52.66 coupled with an acceptable strike rate of 77.20 bears ample testimony to his abilities.
His one Achilles Heel however seems to be coming to grips with a well-directed short ball. A weakness that was exploited expertly by Ryan Harris in the ongoing second Ashes Test at Lord’s, where Trott uncharacteristically scoop-shoveled a short one to Usman Khawaja, but not before compiling a consummate half century punctuated by eleven sweetly timed hits to the ropes.
Trott is as self-effacing while fielding as he is while at the batting crease. A solitary figure patrolling the third man and fine leg areas (except on those occasions when he is given a jaunt at close in positions), he possesses a good arm and a safe pair of catching hands. An unsuspecting observer might as well be forgiven in assuming Trott to be a disconsolate truth seeker with a bald pate, as he trudges towards his customary fielding positions in between overs.
The man who announced his arrival with a stupendous 245 on debut for the Warwickshire Second XI in 2002, has come a long way ever since. Trott will never have either the élan of a Kevin Pietersen or the elegance of a Mark Waugh, but then again he does not need either of them. A precocious resolve, a perennial hunger for runs and a painstaking work ethic have made this sentient cricketer, one of the most redoubtable batsmen to look out for in the years to come.
It is only a matter of time before Ian Jonathan Leonard Trott would gallop into the record books of consistency, respected and revered by compatriots and competitors alike. And we have England to thank for having produced this remarkable breed of cricketer. Wait a minute! Did someone just say South Africa?
(Venkataraman Ganesan is a Chartered Accountant by intent and a lawyer by accident. He has a maniacal penchant for books, more books, still more books and lot more books, when he is not watching cricket that is! He loves his Scotch and scribbles for fun. He blogs at www.the-venkyloquist.com)