Wisden Cricketer of the Year 2011

Jonathan Trott

Paul Bolton


Jonathan Trott was last-man out for 183, England v Pakistan, 4th Test, Lord's, August 28, 2010
Jonathan Trott's gargantuan appetite for runs turned him into the cornerstone of the team's batting © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Jonathan Trott

The sight of Jonathan Trott painstakingly marking his crease as if he were digging a trench drove opponents to distraction during 2010, but it was a reassuring one for England. Trott batted for over 33 hours in six home Tests, including a marathon nine and a quarter hours for his 184 against Pakistan at Lord's. He spent a further 20 hours at the crease in Australia last winter, when his 445 runs in just seven innings were crucial to England's Ashes defence, then batted his way into England's World Cup team.

Trott does not worry too much about complaints from opponents about his exaggerated crease-marking, nor the teasing of his England team-mates at the amount of time he spends in the nets. "I am trying to bat for six hours every day and I don't see how you can do that by batting for 15 minutes in the nets," he says. "I like to bat for 30-40 minutes. Even the coaches have gone when I have finished. It's a bit of a running joke in the England dressing-room, but it's the way I like to prepare."

Trott's methods certainly produce results. He completed 1,000 runs in Test cricket one year and one week after he made his debut. Just as he had on his Second Eleven and County Championship debuts for Warwickshire, Trott marked his first Test appearance with a century - in this case a match-shaping second innings of 119 in the Ashes decider at The Oval in August 2009. Clearly he is a man who believes that first impressions count.

IAN JONATHAN LEONARD TROTT was born in Cape Town on April 22, 1981, into a sporting family. His parents, Ian and Donna, were both talented hockey players. Donna also represented South Africa at softball, and a son from her first marriage, Kenny Jackson, played for Western Province as a middle-order batsman. Trott knew from an early stage that he also wanted to be a professional cricketer. Though he excelled at hockey and rugby at Rondebosch Boys' HS, the school was close enough to Newlands for Trott to gaze out from the classrooms and dream of batting for Western Province and South Africa.

After school Trott would spend hours at his father's sports shop knocking in or sanding cricket bats, while weekends were spent at the private coaching sessions run by his father or watching Jackson play for Western Province. His potential was first identified by the South Africa age-group selectors, who took him to the Under-15 Challenge in England in 1995. By the time he went to the Under-19 World Cup in Sri Lanka in early 2000, Trott was on a cricket scholarship at Stellenbosch University, but he completed only one year of a four-year degree in Human Movement Science. "I was always away playing cricket, so had to cram a whole year's biology syllabus into two days," Trott said. "When it came to the psychology exams I had to look at the board to see how to spell it."

By that stage Trott had already made his senior debut for Boland, playing alongside and outscoring Jackson, in a one-day match against Eastern Province. Trott joined Western Province in 2001 before he took the momentous decision to emigrate. His father, now a cricket coach at St John's School in Leatherhead, was born in England, and was reputedly a distant relative of the Australian Test players Harry and Albert Trott. Jonathan decided to use his British passport to qualify to play for England.

"I had benefited from the South African system. I had played for South Africa Under-15s and Under-19s, I was in their development system so it wasn't as if I wasn't in the selectors' plans," he said. "I just felt that I had not kicked on as I would have liked at Western Province. When I said that I was going to play in England, Eric Simons, the Western Province coach, said that if he was talking to me as my coach he would tell me not to go, but if he was my father he would tell me to go and play in England."

Warwickshire, who had close links with South Africa through Bob Woolmer and Allan Donald, was the obvious choice, and it was Woolmer, in his second spell as director of cricket at Edgbaston, who fixed him up with a trial. Trott was playing club cricket for HBS in Holland when he travelled to a second-team match against Somerset at the Knowle & Dorridge club near Solihull in July 2002. Dropped when he had five, he needed only one innings, 245, the highest score by a debutant in the Second Eleven Championship, to persuade Warwickshire to sign him. When the contract arrived in Cape Town, Jackson told Trott: "Your life has changed." Prescient words indeed.

Trott followed up his second-team double-century with an imperious maiden first-class hundred on his Championship debut against Sussex at Edgbaston in May 2003, failing by only three runs to reach three figures before lunch. He spent four years qualifying for England, but his form dipped in 2007, the first year he became eligible - although he did have his first taste of full international cricket, in two unsuccessful Twenty20 matches against West Indies. Trott's form suffered as Warwickshire endured double relegation in the depressing reign of coach Mark Greatbatch, and he managed only two Championship fifties that season.

Trott's career was transformed by two decisions made within a month in the autumn of 2007. First Warwickshire replaced Greatbatch with Ashley Giles, the recently retired former England spinner; then Trott was a rather surprise selection for an England Performance Programme tour of India, which suggested he had not been forgotten by the selectors. Giles, soon to become a part-time selector himself, encouraged Trott to be less intense in the dressing-room and more focused in his practice, suggesting that hitting 1,000 balls rather than 100 in the nets would not necessarily make him a better player. "Ash's motto is train hard, play easy," says Trott, "whereas mine was train harder, play hard."

Trott has played his best cricket under Giles, who admires his single-mindedness, though they have been known to row like a married couple. Trott's actual marriage, to Abi Dollery, Warwickshire's press officer and granddaughter of the county's former captain Tom, has proved less tempestuous. "Abi has made me a more rounded person, not one that eats, sleeps and drinks cricket," says Trott. "She can also tell when I walk out to bat whether or not I am going to get runs. Don't ask me how, but I can count on one hand the number of times she has been wrong."

There can have been few occasions in 2010 when Mrs Trott knew her husband was likely to fail, as he rattled up 1,084 runs in first-class cricket, 940 in one-day matches and 306 in Twenty20 games. "I just love batting," Trott said. "I would rather be out there than sitting in the dressing-room having a laugh and joke. I prefer to find out over dinner what the jokes have been in the dressing-room during the day."

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