Ashes 2013-14: Jonathan Trott pulling out of tour is a body blow for England

In the absence of an experienced player like Jonathan Trott (above), England will have to utilise the services of players like Jonny Bairstow and Gary Ballance © Getty Images

As England began planning their comeback in the Ashes 2013-14 after a massive defeat in the first Test at Brisbane to Australia, they were dealt a body blow as their batting mainstay Jonathan Trott pulled out from the remainder of the series due to a stress-related illness. While Trott’s decision is appreciable as he is not able to give his 100 per cent, England will certainly miss a solid batsman as experienced and skillful as him in their ranks. Devarchit Varma has more…
 
One wondered what happened to Jonathan Trott at Brisbane, why he looked completely out of sorts in both the innings. Both the times when he was dismissed, Australia’s meticulous planning became evident as Trott fell prey. The way Mitchell Johnson exploited him at The Gabba did not augur well for the England side as one of their frontline batsman struggled miserably, and they tumbled to their sixth heaviest defeat in terms of runs in their Test cricket history. The loss by 381 runs will take some hard work and mental toughness to recover.
 
And then there was the jolt. Trott pulled out of the remainder of the Ashes 2013-14 series due to stress-related illness, throwing England in a pool of trouble — a pool wherein they do not have a batsman as experienced as Trott and a workhorse that he is in their batting order. When England needed their batsmen to go on batting till eternity at Brisbane (in the second innings), Trott was one of the candidates on whom they relied. Now that he is gone for an indefinite period of time, England face trouble as one of their pillars in batting has fallen and they perhaps do not have a ready replacement. This is certainly not a very good sign keeping in mind not only this Ashes but England’s future.
 
It was surprising that the England camp, widely known for its punctilious planning and execution, knew little about Trott’s mindset going into the Brisbane Test. England are certainly the best in the business when it comes to prepare for any series or any tour. The attention that they pay to every minute detail is unmatched and it is staggering how they remain consistent with it. But the revelations of Trott suffering from a mental illness that poses grave threat to his career in international cricket, which the world got to know only after the first Test, irrespective of the result, went unnoticed. England coach and director Any Flower did have fair idea of what Trott has battled all this while, but little did he know that one of his comrades, the 32-year-old Trott will actually have to leave the battle field in midst of a battle.
 
 
Ready replacements?
 
The touring party for Ashes 2013-14 contains some of the best England batsmen. Jonny Bairstow and Gary Ballance are among them. But unfortunately, neither of them has the requisite experience that Trott has. Bairstow is 12 Tests old but he is yet to reach a three-figure mark. In these 12 Tests he has only four half-centuries, including a fine effort of 95 against South Africa at Lord’s. But that happened more than a year ago, in August 2012.
 
Ballance is yet to make his Test debut. The 24-year-old has played only one One-Day International (ODI) in regards to international exposure. He enjoys a healthy 50 plus average in First-Class cricket but it will be really tough to walk out to bat at the Adelaide Oval in case he is selected, to take on a rampaging Australians who seem to be getting back on their old ways of being “visceral, brutal, ugly and confrontational at times — and successful, as former cricketer Mike Atherton put it in The Times after the loss at Brisbane. The Australians are certainly getting back to their old ways. They will be tempted to get into the skin of the inexperienced Bairstow or Ballance in case one of them comes out to bat at the Adelaide Oval.
 
 
David Warner’s comments on Jonathan Trott not in the right spirit?

It is certainly tough to term David Warner’s comments on a struggling Trott not in the right spirit. Little did Warner know what is happening with Trott. And oblivious to the fact that there was something as serious as an illness that could possibly result in Trott never playing for England again, Warner said, “It does look like they’ve got scared eyes at the moment. The way that Trotty (Jonathan Trott) got out today was pretty poor and weak. Obviously there’s a weakness there and we’re on top of it at the moment.”
 
Both England captain Alastair Cook and coach Andy Flower have criticised Warner’s comments on Trott. But if Warner knew a little about Trott and his illness, he might have not launched a verbal attack on the England batsman. He was only targeting one of England’s batting mainstays. Flower is absolutely right by citing the example of England players who refrain from making comments on individuals as they do not keep a track of what’s going around in others’ lives. But all Warner did was a part of an attack that Australia had launched on England – both on and off the field, verbal, and with the ball and the bat. There is not much to read into it beyond this.

(Devarchit Varma is a reporter with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)