Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo
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Twelve months ago, Jonathan Trott was England's "go to" man. Whenever the team needed someone to rise to the challenge - be it during the Ashes, against Pakistan's spectacular swing or during the World Cup - not just the supporters but even the team management looked up to him.
Trott had never disappointed anyone for well over two years ever since marking his arrival on the international stage with a century against Australia in August 2009 - helping to regain the Ashes is no bad way to introduce yourself to world cricket.
Back then, having emerged as the first sole England recipient of the ICC Player of the Year in 2011 (Andrew Flintoff shared it with Jacques Kallis in 2005), Trott was not just the torch-bearer of English cricket but a rapidly declining school of players who could excel in all three formats of the game, especially in the longest.
Cut to November 2012 and the winds seem to have started blowing in the other direction. As he addressed a group of journalists in Ahmedabad ahead of the first of a four-Test series and spoke of his potential plans to take on the Indian bowlers (read spinners), Trott was put on the backfoot about his performance in the side.
This year has been undoubtedly been a mediocre year for Trott, and England as result. In 21 innings, Trott has managed to score just one century and averaged 37.42, well below par any specialist batsman in Test cricket these days, let alone a No. 3. His poor form has resulted in his average that was soaring towards the 60s at the start of the year having almost dropped below 50.
But instead of being bogged down by all sorts of scrutiny, Trott faced all the queries with a straight face, just like his blade during the best of times at the crease. First and foremost, he dismissed the possibility of him having to open the innings during the four-Test series, with two debutants vying for the slot vacated by Andrew Strauss. "I have never really had any discussion like that," Trott said. "Maybe it has been coming more from the media."
In his three preparatory outings at the crease ahead of what would be his first Test series in India, Trott got his eye in but didn't manage the big innings he was accustomed to playing during his purple patch. He didn't hesitate to admit he was a touch frustrated but going into the Test series, he preferred to consider the glass half full rather than half empty.
"I am slightly disappointed with the mistakes I have made so far," Trott said. "Maybe in hindsight I would think I am gladder to have made these mistakes now that in Test matches. I am looking forward to spending more time at the crease in the four-day game so I will be ready."
With England seeking their first Test series win in India for 27 years, the England management seems to be leaving no stone unturned to get the players ready - especially those like Trott who have never played Tests in India. One such measure was to let the batsmen bat in the nets with speakers blaring crowd roars during their training camp in Dubai before arriving in India.
"Our management are very keen on when we get ready for the game time, we are not overawed or surprised by anything," Trott said. "I have played one-dayers in India before and you get a feel over there. It feels good. Probably feels similar to walking out at Melbourne with 90,000 Australians wanting you to do badly."
If Trott does what he did at the MCG almost two years ago - scoring an unbeaten 168 helping England retain the Ashes - at Wankhede or Eden Gardens, not only would he silence the doubters but would also help his team achieve a major goal of winning a series in India. After all, the last three years suggest whenever Trott does well, England do too.