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June 5, 2012
Jonathan Trott did not earn his reputation as a cricketer through playing an array of dashing shots, so it should be of little surprise that he took a similarly cautious approach to a tricky off-pitch episode at Edgbaston on Tuesday.
Placed in a potentially awkward position - charged with talking to the media a few days after the retirement from limited-overs cricket of Kevin Pietersen and the enforced resting of James Anderson - Trott adopted a characteristically dead bat to all questions in a safety-first display which a generation of bowlers would recognise in an instant. Indeed, had Trott paused the press conference to mark his guard, it would have hardly have seemed incongruous.
"You can understand it in a way, but it's a huge disappointment as well," Trott said of Pietersen's decision, thereby ensuring he neither offended Pietersen nor the England team management. "It wasn't a huge surprise. Kev is his own guy and has to make his own decisions. The team fully support his decision. Whatever he decides to do with his cricketing career is fine."
Trott's diplomatic response - as admirable as it was sensible - did inadvertently highlight the uneasy truce that pervades within the England camp at present. It will take careful management over the coming months to ensure that the constructive working environment that helped England to No. 1 in the Test and T20I rankings is maintained.
A recurring theme of the next 18-months or so will be the schedule. Those members of the squad who play all three formats of the game can expect to spend less than two weeks in the UK between mid-October and April. Those involved in the World Twenty20 will be absent for several weeks before that. Irrespective of the actual amount of cricket the squad play or of the comparison with teams of the past, the fact of the matter is that men with young families - be they players or coaches - are uneasy with those demands.
Trott's situation is somewhat different from Pietersen's. Trott is not currently in the England T20 side and he did not even enter the draw for the 2012 IPL season. His T20 record is better than might be presumed, too: only five men (Marcus Trescothick, Darren Stevens, Darren Maddy, Murray Goodwin and Owais Shah) have scored more runs in English domestic T20 cricket and none of their averages comes anywhere near Trott's 39.20. Indeed, no England-qualified player with more than a dozen games behind them has a higher T20 average than Trott, while the 525 runs he scored in the 2009 T20 Cup was a then-record.
"Not being involved in T20, you get that little break," Trott said. "You have to speak to the guys who play all three about how they feel, but I'm really happy with the scheduling for me. It's really busy but that's part of being an England cricketer. We're the only country who play constantly from April through until September and there are always places to go in the winter. It has got a little bit busier, but it's part and parcel. You have to accept and get on with it.
"I didn't put my name forward for this IPL because I knew the workload. I'd been in international cricket for a year at the point when I did, but you now realise it is a lot of cricket. You make a decision and you've got to live with your own decision. Kevin's made his mind up about what he wants to do and that's fine. The guys support and understand the decision he's made. There's plenty of talent to come in and take his place. It's a bit of a blow, but you have to pick yourself up and get on with it.
"Kev was playing all three formats and he's been doing it since 2004, a lot longer than myself. He'll have his reasons. It is quite strenuous but you accept that when you get selected, you go there knowing what's ahead of you. From my side, I've no complaints about how the schedule has been."
Trott did admit, however, that he could see the logic in rotating players. "It's happened in the past, and probably will in the future with the schedule getting busier and busier," he said. "It's only right that these things happen.
"Jimmy Anderson would have liked to have played and quite rightly. He's the spearhead of our bowling attack, and you can understand that he will probably be a little bit disappointed. But with the bowlers and their heavy workload, it's going to happen from time to time. But it's not as if you're giving away international caps. We have guys who are vying to play and whoever takes his place should do a great job."
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: George Dobell
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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