The Ashes 2013-14 November 4, 2013

Australia to face renewed Trott


Australia's cricketers are convinced they will be a far tougher proposition in the Ashes series down under this summer. So too is Jonathan Trott. The usually obdurate and highly consistent Trott put in a strangely mottled showing during the earlier bout in the northern summer, so much so in fact that the Antipodean fast bowlers are convinced they messed with the head of England's No. 3 and can do so again.

Such an assumption may be dangerous however, after Trott completed a period of remedial work on a batting technique that slipped into bad habits during the Ashes, and showed with a century in the opening tour match at the WACA ground that he is on the path toward fixing them. Responding to the declaration of the Australian spearhead Ryan Harris that he had been exposed at times by the brisk short-pitched ball, Trott countered that a sequence of low scores across the series had been more a matter of balance.

"People are going to bowl short balls and yorkers and all sorts to try to get you out - I got out to full balls a lot more than short balls," Trott said in Hobart ahead of England's encounter with Australia A. "It's one of the things people's perception is, and everyone is entitled to their own perception. I know what I've got to focus on this series and what I did when we came here three years ago.

"Ryan Harris played then, in a pretty similar bowling attack then. I have got good memories of being here but I wouldn't say I'm particularly worried about anything specifically delivery-wise, it's more about me getting my game in nick and feeling good."

Trott's English season provides an instructive study of how technical and mental batting flaws can develop. He was in fine fettle early on, peaking with a string of commanding displays during the Champions Trophy. When that tournament ended on the sour note of England's defeat in the final, Trott fought to adjust to the demands of the Ashes, but found himself playing day to day without time to recalibrate his sights or eliminate issues both mental and technical.

So Ashes spectators and Australia's bowlers saw a strange hodgepodge of dismissals, from a haywire drag onto the stumps at Trent Bridge and a skied hook shot at Lord's to a leg glance into Brad Haddin's gloves at Old Trafford. Then there was the wrongly overturned lbw verdict in Nottingham, a dismissal that clearly still grates.

"I got myself out a few times and first Test at Trent Bridge I got a weird review. I'm still scratching my head about that," Trott said. "I technically had a few flaws which I have hopefully ironed out. Over the course of a summer - we started in February in New Zealand and ended in September - it's a long time, so a few things probably crept in that I didn't want to happen. It was to do with balance and it wasn't what I normally do.

"So it was a little bit out, but in an Ashes series you don't want to tinker too much and be too specific on your cricket because the games come thick and fast. Little things creeping in and a lot of little things create a big thing. I wouldn't say I had a huge problem, I was thereabouts but I was probably finding my balance and technique wasn't there, because if you want to go on and get really big hundreds you want to be balanced and have everything in working order. I was getting out in ways I'm not accustomed to because of slight things I wasn't doing all the time."

Trott carried these foibles through the series, emerging somewhat from his slumber with a pair of handy scores at The Oval before battling again during the ODI series. Those matches were not followed by any active duty for Warwickshire, as Trott enjoyed a break. While he spent some time at rest, Trott returned to the Edgbaston indoor nets with Ashley Giles and devoted time to the balance issues that had allowed the Australians to get at him.

He also rationalised the events of summer, content that England had retained the urn and that he had contributed in more ways than runs. If Perth is any indicator, Trott will resume the doughty occupations that so frustrated Australia in 2009 and 2010-11. "If you're not getting runs it's not as if you're looking for answers but you want to know why you're not getting runs … sometimes there is no answer," Trott said. "You have to wait your turn, keep working really hard, keep giving to the team and that's really important.

"To look back at the summer and be disappointed would be foolish because we won the series 3-0. Just because I averaged 30 doesn't make it a huge train smash. I still had some hands in some important partnerships and it was a very exciting and eventful summer. At Perth I felt in better rhythm and hopefully over the next two warm-up games I can get even better."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Ian on November 5, 2013, 10:48 GMT

    Funny Ryan Harris should mention that because if there's one player in these sides susceptible to short-pitched bowling early in an innings, it's his own captain.

  • Dummy4 on November 5, 2013, 7:20 GMT

    Jonathan Trott's game is based on patience. He doesn't regularly make it up to the headlines, he just does his job at a healthy average. He should draw inspiration from his 121 against New Zealand earlier this year. In the Ashes part I, he got a few good starts and made a couple of half centuries with a couple more of forties. But he couldn't cling on to the starts he got due to a prolonged trouble caused by some brisk short pitched stuff. He also tried to remodel his Test game a bit due to the criticism he faced for scoring his ODI runs at a relatively low strike-rate. He might have adapted a different approach in his Test game. Normally, he is very calm with the flick shot off his pads being his bread and butter scoring shot. Also, he has shown a weakness in chasing balls well outside the off-stump by edging it to the keeper/slips or chopping it onto the stumps. The Ashes part II would be a redemption series for the decent no. 3 batsman for England. It will be a great series!

  • rob on November 5, 2013, 6:04 GMT

    @ Greatest_Game: "Besides all that, the entire cricket world knows that the Poms & Aussies like nothing more than playing with each other!" .. Yes, then of course there are some others who seem to prefer playing with themselves !

    There are certain things that certain countries do that make it really hard to like them. I just think if I was following the No 1 ranked team and some country simply blew us off at the last minute because they were more interested in a National love-in I would be a bit upset with them. No consideration and no respect. That's how it looks. .. One day, one sweet day any country that's rude enough to do that sort of thing will get their just deserts. We can only hope.

  • Srinivas on November 5, 2013, 4:12 GMT

    As an Indian, my support is always for Australia when they are facing England. Hope, Clarke doesn't spoil the mood in the dressing room. I thought Bailey did an absolutely fantastic job with the Aussie squad in India. I do have lot of respect for Clarke. But, I have a feeling that he is not very well liked by some of the players. Good luck Aussie Comrades! Will be looking forward for Watto's success mainly with the bat and success with the ball will be a bonus (I became his fan for his significant role for RR in IPL. I'm Dravid's fan and Dravid captained RR in IPL. That's my fan-base for Watto)!

  • jack on November 5, 2013, 2:54 GMT

    After watching him bat at the waca last friday and saturday, i'm yet to be convinced he is 'back'. he was up against a very weak bowling atack and the only shots he was playing was against very poor delivered from the WA second XI who was a bowler down. In contrast, Bell was taking apart the bowling, he looked simply to good for the attack and im convinced that he is a much bigger problem for australia this series

  • David on November 5, 2013, 1:02 GMT

    @ green_track_boasters. India and South Africa would have played 3 tests, but somehow India found that to be a problem. SA did invite Pak to come back to SA - the Proteas have a bit of free time now that India are … busy, but Pak are unable to do so. Sri Lanka backed out of a 3 test series with SA, although they were happy to host tests against Bangladesh! SA were supposed to play 13 tests, but the sub-continent teams backed out of 4. NZ will play 9. India were to play 7, including 3 in SA, but added 1 more when they invited the Windies to play 2 tests there, instead of India laying in SA! I guess their record may look a lot better now, & they mainly like playing ODIs anyway. Sri Lanka don't seem to want to play tests anyway, so that answers that question. Bangladesh play 6 this year, an improvement as they unfairly get ignored, & are playing pretty well!

    Besides all that, the entire cricket world knows that the Poms & Aussies like nothing more than playing with each other!

  • rob on November 5, 2013, 0:15 GMT

    You'd hardly expect someone like Harris to say "yeah, we were dead set lucky we caught him at a bad time and he was getting himself out. He's a class act and we're all really scared of him". Even though it could be the truth.

    Trott is the sort of player who can send a bowling attack into therapy. If he and Cook do what they did to us last time someone better put up a safety net at the Gap because there'll be a queue of bowlers waiting for their turn to jump off.

    @ HatsforBats : I hope you're right about that.

    @ green_track_boasters: Sure, we're no 5 but we won't get any better by hiding from the battle. You've got to get in there and mix it with them if you hope to improve. Don't worry mate, sooner or later we'll be back at the top of the pile and when we are there could be hell to pay.

  • John on November 4, 2013, 23:14 GMT

    The problem with developing a small technical flaw (in Trott's case, getting his head too far to the offside when playing legside shots) is that when you try to fix it, the cure is worse than the illness. It's necessary to go back to basics and rebuild and there simply isn't time to do that in a modern test series.

    Trott's a smart cricketer and might well find his way back to top form. If he does, then he'll be hard to get out- he always has been.

  • Jon on November 4, 2013, 19:45 GMT

    @green_track_boasters, the back to back Ashes series are being played to avoid any clashes with the world cup Australia is set to hold in 2015. The normal arrangement of every 4 years will be resumed after this episode. Personally I would rather watch England play a different test nation just to break it up but from CA viewpoint you can't blame them for not wanting to miss out on the revenue an Ashes series will bring them. Re the article, i think the pitches used in the Eng summer were not to any batsmen's liking and they were the sort of decks that if you were slightly out of form they were not favourable. I hope with the better wickets on show guys like Trott, Cook and Prior will fare a lot better. The Aussie bowling is very strong though and we shouldn't take anything away from how they bowled at him. This ashes will certainly be a lot closer, I really hope to see some seaming wickets on show simply because I am sick of watching cricket on roads or dustbowls. Grass please!!

  • Dummy4 on November 4, 2013, 19:29 GMT

    This is going to be a really interesting winter/summer series. I always liked Trott, had a sense of stability that felt a little shaky this past summer in England, glad to hear he is back in saddle again!

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