Tanya's Take

The terrible treachery of Jonathan Trott

England's newest South African-born batting star a traitor? Oh the humanity!

Tanya Aldred
Tanya Aldred
Jonathan Trott checks out a couple of bats, Bloemfontein, November 3, 2009

Trott sharpens his blades, the better to stick them into English backs, one presumes  •  Getty Images

Andrew Flintoff puts his arm around Brett Lee at the end of the Edgbaston Ashes Test of 2005 and it is the sporting gesture of the century. Jonathan Trott pats Paul Harris on the back at the end of the Edgbaston Test of 2008, and it is down there with Judas' kiss in the list of bad career moves.
Trott may have been born in South Africa and grown up in South Africa, but how could he congratulate a South African? He had been 12th man for England. The fiend! His explanation that he was only sending his best wishes to Harris, a friend since he was 16, was preposterous.
It wasn't exactly the patting that caused the outcry - though a full bear hug is so much more macho - more its sinister undertones of double-dealing, avarice and deception. If only his treachery had been revealed a few days earlier, his effigy could have been popped atop a 5th November bonfire.
I would say poor Jonathan Trott, except Jonathan Trott seems more than capable of looking after himself.
By keeping his head down and neither going out with pop stars nor wearing small bleached animals on his head, nor tattooing the three lions on his arm, Trott has been cleverly staying in the shadows. Not anymore: he's up there walking the KP tightrope of nationality.
Perhaps what sticks in our collective throats is the idea of the white South African man fleeing the country now he is no longer in the driving seat. But Trott was only 13 when Nelson Mandela was elected president. We can hardly blame him for the sins of his father (who is English, actually), if we do raise our eyebrows at his unwillingness to stick it out at Boland and Western Province and force his way into the South African team.
Why did he leave? It is unlikely to be weather-related. Probably it was financial - he will be better rewarded and more comfortably off playing in England. In which case he is guilty of being nothing more than an economic migrant, joining a cast of hundreds of millions.
And if he has split loyalties, what do we really expect? Rare is the man who cuts all ties with his home country. Only he, and Kevin Pietersen, will know in their hearts what it feels like to be in South Africa and hear "Nkosi Sikelel' Africa" belted out, while they join in with "God Save the Queen".
Cricketers don't play just for the love of the game now, nor did they ever do unless they were lucky enough to have a stately home, stables and private income. They've always looked for ways of earning a few extra bob tarmacing the M1, clearing the ropes at the IPL, or crossing continents to play county cricket.
Trott breaks no sanctions, unlike those who took the tarnished rand to tour South Africa in the 1970s and 80s as rebels, among them many English players who after serving their bans went on to management and coaching positions.
And now he plays for England, he will obviously discard all those JM Coetzee novels, the salty biltong, the muscle vest t-shirt, the Jonty Rhodes coaching manual and the religion on his shirt sleeve. Instead Jonathan, you make yourself a nice brew and settle back with Now magazine to catch up with the latest details on Jordan and Peter. Watch The Thick of It for some kosher British swearing, perhaps with an overflowing Turkish pizza on your knee. And while you're at it, try not to be too articulate - it's just not authentic.
So the Australians think they are suffering in India? They should take a journey through the England injury list for the 2002-03 tour of Australia in Wisden. Not only did England arrive with injured players - Darren Gough (knee), Michael Vaughan (knee), Simon Jones (rib), Marcus Trescothick (shoulder) and Andrew Flintoff (double hernia); they had squad players injure themselves on tour - Simon Jones (cruciate ligaments), John Crawley (hip and torn muscle), Alec Stewart (hand), Ashley Giles (left wrist), Steve Harmison (sore shins) and Andy Caddick (back). They also managed to find injuries for the replacement players - Chris Silverwood (ankle ligaments), Craig White (rib strain), Alex Tudor (temple) and Jeremy Snape (thumb in a warm-up game) .And they lost the Test series 1-4 and the one-day series 3-7. There, that should have cheered a few of you

Tanya Aldred lives in Manchester. She writes occasionally for the Guardian