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Tears flow but Jonathan Trott heads contently into retirement

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'I've lived out my dreams for both Warwickshire and England' - Trott (3:39)

Warwickshire's Jonathan Trott reflected on his career and shared his thoughts on securing promotion back into Division One as he retired from the game. (3:39)

Warwickshire 380 (Sibley 119, Rhodes 110) beat Kent 167 (Wright 3-29, Barker 3-31) and 179 (Crawley 75, Stone 3-35) by an innings and 34 runs
Scorecard

It was a funny sort of celebration, really. There was champagne, of course, but there were also tears. There were lots of tears.

You would have thought that Warwickshire, the side that had just ensured their promotion as Division Two Champions, would have been unstinting in their celebrations. They had just defeated the second best side in the division by an innings, after all. It was their fifth innings victory of the campaign and their fourth in the final six matches.

But, as Jonathan Trott led his Warwickshire colleagues off the pitch for the last time, the tears of his captain, Jeetan Patel, and coach, Jim Troughton, were not entirely joyful. They were, instead, of something approaching mourning: a career, an era even, was ending. After 17 years at the club and 16 as an automatic pick, Trott had retired.

"He's a hell of a man," Patel said through the tears. "We're losing a good player. We're losing a good man.

"Today belongs to him. His career has been immense. He's given so much to the game. If you want someone to score runs when it's tough, or give a message to the team when it's tough… we're losing a good man."

He is not the only one leaving, either. Chris Wright and Keith Barker, in many ways the architects of the 2012 Championship success, are off to Leicestershire and Hampshire respectively having been offered better deals there.

Both will be sorely missed. Wright has played every Championship match this season, taking 41 wickets and scoring 342 runs, while Barker, with his left-arm swing and huge feet creating rough for the spinners, showed his enduring class on his final day with the club by claiming two wickets in an over - including a perfect inswinger that nipped between Jo Denly's bat and pad and removed his off and middle stumps - before leaving the pitch with a hamstring strain. He had well-earned the warm reception he was given. Their new clubs are lucky to have them.

There will be no fresh start for Trott. Not as a player, anyway. As a boy growing up in Cape Town, he had always dreamed of playing for Warwickshire - the club of his heroes such as Allan Donald, Shaun Pollock and Bob Woolmer - and he had no interest in eking out another couple of years elsewhere. He married a local girl whose family - the Dollerys - is steeped in the club's history and they live barely two miles from Edgbaston.

In a contract meeting with the club he once argued for a pay cut in the hope the money could be used to retain the services of a former player - it was; that player is now a senior coach - and was never linked with a move. He was mocked by some for saying, a few years ago, that he would rather live in Birmingham than Cape Town, but he meant it. He has made it his home and understands that some things - friends, family, community - are more important than sunshine and scenery.

And, while other players of his age might be attracted by T20 - or even T10 leagues - that was never really his game. His future is, he hopes, in coaching. There is nothing lined-up at present but, as generation of batsmen struggle to combat the moving ball, Trott's knowledge and skills seem more valuable than ever.

While Trott too, shed a few tears, his primary emotion appeared to be relief. Long gone are the carefree days - such as 2003, when he made a century on first-class debut for Warwickshire or 2009 when he did the same thing on Test debut for England - when batting seemed easy. He looked drained at the end of this match and, despite averaging more than 50 in List A cricket this season and almost 50 in first-class cricket, when he said he had been looking forward to his retirement day, you believed him.

"I've no second thoughts," he said. "Making the decision to retire [a few months ago] gave me a new lease of life and helped me get through the season. It encouraged me to enjoy the season for what it is and not fight or wrestle with cricket as I have down in the past. I just went out and let it happen. I've been looking forward to this day. It's the right time for me and, more importantly, it's the right time for the club.

"I've been incredibly lucky. Warwickshire have given me so much. Not just a job, but a home. I've lived out my dream by playing for them and owe them a huge amount. I'm standing here now, having just helped the boys win promotion and having been congratulated by one of my heroes, Allan Donald, on my career. That's really special for me. It's feels like a fantastic way to go out."

In some ways, Trott hasn't changed much. The manner he left the pitch on Tuesday, furious with himself having been caught at midwicket, was similar to the way he left the pitch after his trial game for the seconds in 2002. On that occasion he had scored 245 but, such was his hunger for runs, you would have thought he had been dismissed for a duck.

In other ways, he is much changed. The explosion of curly hair has long gone and, in its place, are the crow's-feet and chipped teeth that speak of hours in the sun and the anxiety inherent in making a living with a cricket bat. He could never make sense of a game where you could be in such good form, you could nick a great ball and be out early, or be in poor enough form that you could miss it by miles and go on and make a century. Somewhere in that confusion, though, developed a knowledge - a wisdom, even - that understood there are more important things in life than cricket and that the measure of a person is often how they deal with setbacks. Somewhere along the way he learned phlegmatism and an ability to let go.

"Notably, a couple of the side's younger batsmen were among the most upset by the prospect of his departure. Nothing could reflect better on a senior player"

For Warwickshire, he played a part in two County Championship (2004 and 2012) and two limited-overs titles (2010 and 2016) and lists the first of those Championships and the second of those limited-overs trophies (he won the Man of the Match award in the Lord's final) among his career highlights. He ranks alongside MJK Smith, Dennis Amiss, Nick Knight, Ian Bell and his grandfather-in-law (if there is such a thing), H.E. 'Tom' Dollery - a man he is starting to resemble just a little - among the very best England-qualified Warwickshire batsmen since the Second World War. Only Knight has more List A centuries for the club; not even Bell has as many as his 31 first-class centuries for them.

It was uplifting to witness the reception he gained from supporters here. And to hear him address them so calmly and eloquently. There may have been a time, long ago, when he didn't value their support and they didn't appreciate his commitment. Not now. Eventually they got to know him and understand that he required that bluff façade he still hides behind from time to time to mask the vulnerability. They saw how much he cared for the team's success and how much he hated the spotlight. In the end, he got to know them and they got to know him. It's anyone's guess who will miss who more.

It tells you a great deal about Trott that, when pushed to select a favourite moment in the game, it is his run-out of Simon Katich in Adelaide in 2010 that comes to mind. Not the 13 international centuries; not the Man of the Series award earned against the wonderful Pakistan bowling attack of 2010; not winning the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy for the ICC cricketer of the year in 2011 - he remains the only England-qualified player to win it outright (though Andrew Flintoff shared it with Jaques Kallis in 2005).

No, his career highlight was that run-out. It came in the first over of the game after Australia had elected to make first use of a typically flat surface. Shane Watson had called for a run, Trott had thrown down the stumps with a direct hit from somewhere around square-leg. Five minutes later, Australia were three down and England on their way to an innings victory.

"I just wanted to contribute," he explains. "I'd worked really hard on my fielding and that moment was reward for it. We knew we needed an early wicket and I was really pleased to help us take it."

It is his batting for England in those years for which Trott will be remembered, though. Yes, it ended badly. There's no getting away from that. But, for a while, Trott was a foundation stone in the best Test side England have had in many, many years. Whatever the situation, whatever the bowling attack, he would emerge at No. 3 and, without drama or decoration, bat his side into an impregnable position. When England won the Ashes in Australia (winning three Tests by an innings), when they whitewashed India to go to No. 1 in the world, when they won in India, Trott was No. 3. Andrew Strauss called him his most "reassuring" player and a generation of England fans came to rely upon him.

And his ODI batting? Well, the game has changed, no doubt. But to average 50 in ODI cricket, to reach the 1000-run landmark in the same number of games as Viv Richards (Trott reached the 2,000 run landmark in an innings fewer), to help his team reach the No. 1 world ranking and come within an ace of their first global ODI title - the 2013 Champions Trophy - is still deserving of praise. In truth, it was very rarely #TrottsFault.

Maybe, in time, he will reflect that it was none of those high points of which he should be most proud. Maybe it was the aborted Test comeback. Few gave him any chance of a return after he left the Ashes tour of 2013-14. His county return was soon abandoned and he looked, for a while, much diminished.

To have come back from those depths was remarkable. To have accepted his faults, challenged his fears and strode back into the forum where he had a breakdown was, in its way, as admirable achievement as any in his career. It didn't work out, of course, but surely sport teaches us that not every defeat is inglorious. The Barmy Army supporters who cheered him off the pitch at the end of a Barbados Test in which he had scored nine across two innings understood that and expressed their gratitude for the good times. The Warwickshire supporters did the same on Wednesday. Notably, a couple of the side's younger batsmen were among the most upset by the prospect of his departure. Nothing could reflect better on a senior player.

The lengthening shadows, the changing colour of leaves, the chill in the air: there is always a sense of melancholy that accompanies this time of year. Every county cricket lover understands seasonal affective disorder. Their only surprise is that it's not called cricket seasonal affective disorder.

This felt like an ending. But it's not really. Just part of the cycle. With players such as Olly Stone - whose England journey is just beginning - Dominic Sibley, Sam Hain and, most of all, Henry Brookes coming through, Trott and co.'s departure allows opportunities for new faces to emerge. The game - for a bit longer at least - remains the same; it's just the characters involved change. Trott has left the club he loves in a good state. With nobody thinking he stayed too long and most wanting him to remain for longer. With a record of which to be proud. He departs with the cheers of teammates and rivals, of family and supporters, ringing in his ears. Well batted, Trotty. It doesn't get much better.

Kent 3rd innings Partnerships

WktRunsPlayers
1st34Z CrawleySR Dickson
2nd22AEN RileyZ Crawley
3rd0JL DenlyZ Crawley
4th12HG KuhnZ Crawley
5th22Z CrawleyOG Robinson
6th43SW BillingsZ Crawley
7th1DI StevensSW Billings
8th0SW BillingsG Stewart
9th45SW BillingsHW Podmore
10th0MJ HenryHW Podmore