It seems that Trott, like the stressed out Marcus Trescothick, may have played his last Test
When Andy Flower called Jonathan Trott ‘the rock to which the good ship England was tied’ he hit precisely the right word.
Trott wanted to bat in that awkward, difficult spot at No. 3, he made a success of it and not only scored a stack of runs but provided a solid platform from which the rest of the batsmen could operate. He left room for that erratic genius Kevin Pietersen to play his glorious strokes, gave Ian Bell the chance to get his feet under the table before he unleashed his cover drive, supported Alastair Cook and annoyed the opposition beyond telling.
If you doubt Trott’s worth wait to see the score at the end of the Ashes series, or listen to the babble coming from England’s team hotel as it tries to find a replacement for the apparently phlegmatic Trott now that he has gone home too stressed to carry on in the face of the fast bowlers, their fielders and a continent full of sledgers.
England picked Trott because he was a tough guy who had cured his love for one beer too many and prayed he could fill its problem spot. It’s not on its own. “Bat your best man at No. 3” said Bradman and although England had Cook, a run-scoring machine, and Pietersen, a destroyer of good bowling, and Bell scoring hundreds for fun, Trott made it all happen.
So we thought. We did not know that underneath that placid exterior lurked a tormented soul waiting to demolish his career. That is what has happened; now it seems that Trott, like the stressed-out Marcus Trescothick, may have played his last Test.
Flower, manager, tactician and selector as well as coach, will be held responsible if this series is lost and more so if it turns out to be a whitewash. Flower seemed to be ready to move on anyway, but unless he can find a miracle he may not be able to retreat in his own time.
He seems to have elected Joe Root, 22, and still boyish — despite a batting technique to die for — to bat at No. 3. If Root grows up overnight, he and Flower will be heroes. His second innings at Brisbane was significant since I guess he had been told to treat it as an audition for the bigger battles to come. Root is highly promising but it is a major task for an apprentice to fill.
He has already been tried at No. 5, the beginner’s place, and as an opener where he bats for Yorkshire. This latest move will test him to the limit.
Evidently, neither Pietersen nor Bell relish the trial by bouncers, yorkers and nasty remarks that follows the fall of the first wicket. Matt Prior is so far out of form that he is likely to be dropped rather than promoted. No doubt Jonny Bairstow has the guts for the job but he, like Root, is at the beginning of his career.
It would be easy to fall into the trap of trying to right all the concerns about England in a single sentence but that is not a way to cure the Trott dilemma.
If the selectors want to go down that path they ought to ask Cook to step down, to fly Paul Collingwood out as captain — to bat at No. 6, bowl a couple of overs — and show England by his enthusiasm how to shrug off the mightiest blow in its recent history.