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Friday, 6th July
Jonathan Trott is British. It says so on his passport and he long ago passed the ECB’s cricket immigration test*. In an interview with George Dobell this week, he revealed that when he goes to South Africa, he doesn’t enjoy it much and usually flies back early. Booking a holiday, and then moaning about it from the time you arrive until the time you catch an early flight home: what could be more British than that?
I’ll be honest, as willow wavers go, he’s not one of my favourites. I respect his work, in much the same way that I might admire a really solid bit of bricklaying. You can appreciate an impressive accumulation of identically coloured rectangular bricks, one on top of the other in orthodox fashion, and you can nod approvingly at the impeccably neat mortar work, but you aren’t going to plan a day trip to see it.
He’s very good at what he does, though. Test match cricket rewards obduracy and HMS Trott is perhaps the modern game’s most successful anchor dropper. And anyone who voluntarily leaves the climate of South Africa to dwell in the land that dry forgot deserves some kind of credit. Yet, he still feels as though he has to justify his presence on these shores.
“Let me tell you, when the sun shines, there is no better country in the world than England.”
Fortunately George stopped him before he got on to Elgar, muffins or red telephone boxes. And I’ll have to take his word for it on the sunshine, I can’t really remember to be honest. The two permanent puddles outside my house (I’ve called them Dave and George) will soon be forming a small pond together, the buses are full of slugs travelling between vegetable gardens, and shoals of piranhas are window-shopping on Oxford Street.
That he has such an idyllic view of England sounds all the more remarkable when you learn that he lives in Birmingham. The second city doesn’t have a great reputation: it’s dull, it’s not much fun to look at and the accent is hard to take. But look a little more closely and you’ll see that it’s built around some substantial looking Victorian architecture that is impressive in its restrained classicism. You could say it’s the Jonathan Trott of English cities.
* For this rigorous exam, potential migrants are asked to complete the following phrases:
1. Corridor of ----- 2. My grandmother could have played that with a stick of ---- 3. Mind the ---- Tino 4. The bowler’s Holding, the batsman’s ---- 5. I think it’s raining again dear, pass me the ----
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Andrew Hughes is a writer and avid cricket watcher who has always retained a healthy suspicion of professional sportsmen, and like any right-thinking person rates Neville Cardus more highly than Don Bradman. His latest book is available here and here @hughandrews73