England May 29, 2010

Fidget while you Trott

He may not be English but by being self-conscious and insecure, he puts his adopted countrymen at ease

Yes little apple, I shall plant you at cover boundary © PA Photos
Jonathan Trott is not English. Neither, for that matter, are Andrew Strauss and Matt Prior, at least, not by the only possible objective standard of Englishness: being born here. You can’t become English, you can’t apply for an English passport and you can’t join the English nation, because there is no such thing. Given therefore that our cricket team represents a country that doesn’t exist, I think we can afford to be a little more relaxed about the precise place of origin of some of our chaps.

Personally, I find that the eclectic composition of the England cricket team is one of its redeeming features. Over the years, first, second and third generation immigrants have played in the name of England and no other team in world cricket has included such a diverse range of backgrounds. At the moment, a lot of them happen to come from South Africa, but there’s a reason for that: South Africa produce very good cricketers.

So, back to wee Trott. This Lord’s Test has given us a chance to get to know the little feller better, since we saw him only once at The Oval last summer and he spent so little time at the crease in South Africa. The first thing to note is that he appears to have picked up those comforting English traits of self-consciousness and chronic insecurity. We learned on Thursday that he only feels happy when the ball is coming out of precisely the middle of the bat and that he reads every word written about him in the press.

His most human characteristic though is his superstitious scratching at the crease. Over the first two days we watched fascinated as a tentative scratch became a defined drill, a definite rut and finally a deep trench. It would not have been all that surprising had he come out for Friday’s play carrying a watering can and a packet of seeds. Or was he combining his cricket duties with an archaeological dig in search of the lost gold of Thomas Lord?

I was never a fidgety player myself, I wasn’t usually at the crease long enough to establish any foibles, unless playing a forward defensive to every ball can be considered a superstition, so I am not best placed to judge on such matters, but I wonder whether other teams will be quite so obliging towards his horticultural excavations. In particularly, I foresee a certain amount of foot-tapping and lower lip pouting from our antipodean cousins this winter.

If Trott wants to eradicate this unfortunate aspect of his game, he could do worse than follow the example of his more illustrious countryman. For weeks now, the English press have praised the hard work that KP has put in to smooth out those little technical wrinkles and rid himself of that silly tendency to get out to Yuvraj Singh or indeed anyone else with a dominant left arm and an opposable thumb.

Thursday was his chance to put it into action. I am no expert, so I am not qualified to explain the detail of his technical recalibration, but I think it is fair to say that at first glance, the results appeared mixed. With the score on 227-2, he came up against Shakib Al Hasan. Stepping outside leg stump, he flailed wildly at a straight ball, with all the elegance of a giraffe caught in a treacle spill, and lost his off stump

But then what can you expect. He’s not even English.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

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  • testli5504537 on June 7, 2010, 3:20 GMT

    I don't think there is anything wrong with English cricket given that young blokes people like Finn, Broad & Cook are coming through. For 100 years Indians, South Africans, even Australians have played for England. If they qualify through residency then they can play. It's the modern world after all. If Australia wasn't so far away from everything we'd have plenty of ex-pats qualifying for national duty as well. The poms pick on merit not on nationality or race. Maybe Australia can learn from that too- be nice to see a non-european face in the aussie side one day.

  • testli5504537 on June 2, 2010, 5:05 GMT

    I agree with Hylton, it really is like a South African B side. In reality, of the present crop of SAFA 'S in the England side, only Kevin Peterson would probably be guaranteed a spot in the SA sides (all three versions). Having read a number of similar articles recently, all alluding to SA born players in the England squad,it is clear that a thread of self consciousness or even acute embarrassment is running through the English cricket establishment. And so it should, why can't England produce, nurture or develop it's own young cricket talent. It leaves me bewildered and sad.

  • testli5504537 on June 1, 2010, 9:10 GMT

    speaking as an expat (even after 24 years in england) south african i was seriously embaraassed by trott's behaviour at lord's. marking out your guard again after the match is over isn't a harmless eccentricity but the sign of a deeper mental malaise. if he's not careful trott could go the way of neil mckenzie (yes, also south african, don't we breed a fine stock of weirdoes?) and find himself incapable of batting - and thus earning a living - if he doesn't have treatment for his ocd tendencies?

  • testli5504537 on June 1, 2010, 7:05 GMT

    No, Mr F, Andrew Symonds is definitely not an Australian in any known sense. He's a Queenslander. Enough said. Perhaps, on the subject of nervous habits being English, the Poms might want to claim one Dave Warner. If he fiddles with his gloves any more you can have him for free.

  • testli5504537 on June 1, 2010, 3:27 GMT

    Hylton, just a question for you..

    Why is the SA B side better than the SA A side?

    Is it because of the non-SA born bolwers maybe?

  • testli5504537 on May 31, 2010, 18:05 GMT

    OK, shaun:

    I've left out anyone not born in England for this team (Ben Stokes and Amjad Khan would otherwise have had decent claims), and also anyone who shows up in the Test side. This is a four day team, I don't care much for limited overs cricket: Trescothick, Carberry, Lyth, Gale (c), Hildreth, Davies (wk), Rashid, Woakes, Mahmood, Kirby

  • testli5504537 on May 31, 2010, 13:50 GMT

    After all Colin Cowdrey wasn't English either being born in India.

  • testli5504537 on May 31, 2010, 5:48 GMT

    Mr F,

    Accents mate, have you heard Andrew Simmonds speak, not too many stronger Asutralian Accents than that!

    Peterson / Trott, now they have quite strong SA accents to my ears, as does Morgan have an Irish one.

  • testli5504537 on May 31, 2010, 1:01 GMT


    I would actually say it is the South African "A" side if anything. The B team is the one that choked (again) at the T20 World Cup :-P

    Or are you seriously saying that KP wouldn't make the SA First XI at this moment?

  • testli5504537 on May 30, 2010, 23:48 GMT

    At least Strauss and Prior sound English. Trott and Pietersen are a throwback to Tony Greig being "English." Come to think of it, Robert Croft and Gavin Hamilton aren't exactly English are they?

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