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