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
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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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Hammond 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.

  • Mike Borchardt 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.

  • chris 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?

  • Phil S 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.

  • Hammond 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?

  • Ilanin 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

  • Steve Field on May 31, 2010, 13:50 GMT

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

  • MM 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.

  • Dave on May 31, 2010, 1:01 GMT

    Hylton,

    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?

  • Alfred 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?

  • Hammond 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.

  • Mike Borchardt 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.

  • chris 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?

  • Phil S 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.

  • Hammond 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?

  • Ilanin 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

  • Steve Field on May 31, 2010, 13:50 GMT

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

  • MM 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.

  • Dave on May 31, 2010, 1:01 GMT

    Hylton,

    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?

  • Alfred 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?

  • Hylton on May 29, 2010, 16:36 GMT

    Comming from South Arica I will always support England after SA because it is really just the South African B side .... :)

  • gudolerhum on May 29, 2010, 16:14 GMT

    I think the Trott antics are over the top. It is frustrating to the spectators and they are likely to annoy the opponents, particularly the bowler who has to wait for the tedious process to be completed. His eccentricity should have been quietly stopped before he reached International level. Now it is going to be embarrassing to him and the team.The reason for stopping him is he damages the pitch! If the bowler steps into the area he trenches, the bowler is warned and may be prohibited from bowling again in the innings. Why is Trott allowed to do this? I know some bowlers who would bowl before he was ready or when he settles, make him wait a while before starting their run. Fair is fair. The umpires should have a quiet word with him and if he does not stop speak to his captain. There must be some penalty for deliberate time wasting, which is what it becomes. He, or any batsman could use this ploy to save a game.

  • Mr F on May 29, 2010, 15:48 GMT

    sorta like andrew symonds isnt an australian....but the aussies wouldnt mention that....

  • Paul Ashton on May 29, 2010, 13:49 GMT

    The most important thing is that he scored the runs.Many players have had their nervoushabits. Whilst sterner tests (no pun intended) lie ahead, we should welcome a double centurion and hope that runs against lesser teams will breed confidence and this in turm will result in decisive innings

  • shaun price on May 29, 2010, 13:28 GMT

    Thank goodness 4 "the South African government" is what all cricket followers should be saying. Test cricket in England now has a decent "we can win" team + resident South Africans can watch two teams with interest.

    If anybody had some xtra cash "how about a challenge" County England vs County SA. should make a good contest!!!.

    SA Rudolph Madsen Prince McKenzie Benkenstein Pothas(w)Hall Boje Henderson Nel Willoughby. good 4day team good odi + 20/20.

    Now come on english county followers post your team!!

  • Athol Hewnwick on May 29, 2010, 12:48 GMT

    Lovely article. The whole issue of what makes one English or South African or any other nationality is a complex one. My ancestors are English, Irish, German and lots of other things. I was born and raised in South Africa as were my parents and grand parents. I live in Ireland and am hoping to acquire an Irish passport. My children were born here and carry an Irish passport and speak with Irish accents. When I am in South Africa, they tell me I sound Irish and in Ireland they tell me I sound South African (or Australian for the less discerning). I love biltong and braais, Guiness, English Ale and lager. I love cabbage and bacon. I play cricket for an Irish club and wish I had the talent to create a dilemma of whom I should play for internationally.

  • Sunil D'Souza on May 29, 2010, 6:57 GMT

    As long as the 1st class game i.e. county cricket thrives ,so will a number of "other place" born cricketers continue to feature in the England team.One 20/20 win will not spark any great revival but we are destined to see a plethora of the "bits and pieces"CRICKETERS "shine.Trott fortunately wasnt in the 20/20 squad.There is a certain correctness in hos batting.Oh how we long for a Gower like left hander..

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  • Sunil D'Souza on May 29, 2010, 6:57 GMT

    As long as the 1st class game i.e. county cricket thrives ,so will a number of "other place" born cricketers continue to feature in the England team.One 20/20 win will not spark any great revival but we are destined to see a plethora of the "bits and pieces"CRICKETERS "shine.Trott fortunately wasnt in the 20/20 squad.There is a certain correctness in hos batting.Oh how we long for a Gower like left hander..

  • Athol Hewnwick on May 29, 2010, 12:48 GMT

    Lovely article. The whole issue of what makes one English or South African or any other nationality is a complex one. My ancestors are English, Irish, German and lots of other things. I was born and raised in South Africa as were my parents and grand parents. I live in Ireland and am hoping to acquire an Irish passport. My children were born here and carry an Irish passport and speak with Irish accents. When I am in South Africa, they tell me I sound Irish and in Ireland they tell me I sound South African (or Australian for the less discerning). I love biltong and braais, Guiness, English Ale and lager. I love cabbage and bacon. I play cricket for an Irish club and wish I had the talent to create a dilemma of whom I should play for internationally.

  • shaun price on May 29, 2010, 13:28 GMT

    Thank goodness 4 "the South African government" is what all cricket followers should be saying. Test cricket in England now has a decent "we can win" team + resident South Africans can watch two teams with interest.

    If anybody had some xtra cash "how about a challenge" County England vs County SA. should make a good contest!!!.

    SA Rudolph Madsen Prince McKenzie Benkenstein Pothas(w)Hall Boje Henderson Nel Willoughby. good 4day team good odi + 20/20.

    Now come on english county followers post your team!!

  • Paul Ashton on May 29, 2010, 13:49 GMT

    The most important thing is that he scored the runs.Many players have had their nervoushabits. Whilst sterner tests (no pun intended) lie ahead, we should welcome a double centurion and hope that runs against lesser teams will breed confidence and this in turm will result in decisive innings

  • Mr F on May 29, 2010, 15:48 GMT

    sorta like andrew symonds isnt an australian....but the aussies wouldnt mention that....

  • gudolerhum on May 29, 2010, 16:14 GMT

    I think the Trott antics are over the top. It is frustrating to the spectators and they are likely to annoy the opponents, particularly the bowler who has to wait for the tedious process to be completed. His eccentricity should have been quietly stopped before he reached International level. Now it is going to be embarrassing to him and the team.The reason for stopping him is he damages the pitch! If the bowler steps into the area he trenches, the bowler is warned and may be prohibited from bowling again in the innings. Why is Trott allowed to do this? I know some bowlers who would bowl before he was ready or when he settles, make him wait a while before starting their run. Fair is fair. The umpires should have a quiet word with him and if he does not stop speak to his captain. There must be some penalty for deliberate time wasting, which is what it becomes. He, or any batsman could use this ploy to save a game.

  • Hylton on May 29, 2010, 16:36 GMT

    Comming from South Arica I will always support England after SA because it is really just the South African B side .... :)

  • Alfred 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?

  • Dave on May 31, 2010, 1:01 GMT

    Hylton,

    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?

  • MM 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.