Trott consolidates after de Bruyn double
England Lions 169 for 3 (Trott 57*) trail South Africa A 504 for 8 dec. (de Bruyn 202*, Plunkett 4-91) by 335 runs
Given he was not batting first wicket down on his return to representative international cricket, Jonathan Trott was at the crease rather sooner than he would have envisaged on the second day in Paarl. South Africa A declared once Theunis de Bruyn, a Test player of the near future, reached a double century, whereupon England Lions swiftly lost Adam Lyth and Alex Lees, their prolific Yorkshiremen. Soon the captain was in the middle, fidgeting, scratching and then scoring runs, 57 to date, in his inimitable way.
The first ball he received, from his old boyhood friend Rory Kleinveldt, was of the kind he has relished down the years. It was a little short of a length, pitching on his leg stump, and was promptly despatched to the very place it belonged: the midwicket boundary. The next ball was in much the same area, the bounce a little lower, and was duly clipped away, this time for three runs. Unexpected sporting pleasantries, then, back in his homeland.
Kleinveldt, who will be joining Northamptonshire this coming season, went in for some short stuff after that, but two bouncers in a row did not trouble Trott. What did, momentarily, was the more probing medium pace of Ryan McLaren, who is keen to revive his South African Test career and who had Trott dropped behind the stumps by Rudi Second, a batsman/wicketkeeper who plays for Chevrolet Knights. The chance, low and in front of first slip, was a difficult one.
After that, Trott settled for consolidation, not least because Sam Robson played on when attempting to square cut Kleinveldt, who, as well as captaining South Africa A, is the son-in-law of Omar Henry, the former spin bowler turned boss of Boland Park.
Here, too, was an opportunity for James Vince to impress those two fine judges of a batsman, Andy Flower, who sat motionless behind the arm, and Graham Thorpe. Some of his off driving in his unbeaten 43 from 101 balls can only have done so.
By the close, Trott, who reached a half-century off 108 balls with six fours, and 57 from 123 balls in all, had added 102 with Vince and ensured the Lions would reach a competitive total.
The management on this trip - and there is a sizeable entourage - reckon Trott is in a good place, mentally, and now, following his second substantial score in his first two matches, technically and temperamentally as well. His celebration at the crease, bat pointed at the dressing-room and at a small band of supporters, who prefer following the Lions in quieter venues to the England side in major Test arenas, was composed. He will be after a century upon resumption.
Lyth went leg before on the back foot to the tall Chris Morris and Lees was bowled by Kleinveldt, groping forward. If at all possible, there was even less pace in the pitch than on the first day, and hence the bounce a little lower. Not that this stymied de Bruyn to any noticeable extent. Standing up on the balls of his feet to square cut in the manner of Roy Pienaar, that gifted Kent and South African batsman, he reached 150 from 212 balls with 27 fours, taking his average to more than 50 for the first time in his career.
South Africa A lost Second, leg before to Mark Wood playing slightly across the line; McLaren, playing on when attempting to square drive Liam Plunkett, who deservedly finished with four wickets, and Kleinveldt, bowled by Mark Wood, who found some unexpected movement at an advanced stage of the innings. This came to a close when de Bruyn reached his double century. His 202 came from 275 balls and included 30 fours. Now 22, he has 908 first-class runs to his name at an average of 53.04 from just ten matches. England will be hearing more of him when they tour next winter.