Cricket: Trott's Kiwi connection plays part

By Andrew Alderson

Kiwis often like to boast New Zealand played a small but significant part in the international sporting prowess of others.

You know the story. Martin Johnson would never have lifted the William Webb Ellis Trophy for England in 2003 had he not 'learned his rugby' in the King Country.

Tiger Woods has a New Zealand caddy. Phar Lap was foaled here. It's no different with this week's Ashes win for England's cricketers.

Former Otago professional (2005-06) Jonathan Trott is proof the New Zealand game can produce match winners. Debuting in the must-win final test at the Oval, the 28-year-old produced 119 runs in England's second innings to help set Australia a massive 546 to win.

Australia fell short by 197 runs, losing the urn 2-1. Trott says somehow he found his way into what modern day sporting parlance terms 'the zone'.

"It was the most fun I've ever had batting. There was an excited crowd but I found myself able to enjoy it as time wore on and not get too wrapped up in the situation."

So the South African-born allrounder can be slotted into the 'ours' category by virtue of coming out almost four years ago. Further entrenching his Kiwi credentials are the fact his dad Ian works as the coach at Auckland's Parnell club six months of the year.

Trott also has a sister living in Auckland.

He did have a stellar season down this way despite leaving a few games before the end of the season after a precautionary back scan. He scored a century in his opening first class match on New Zealand soil, no surprises there.

He then went on to average 39.28 with the bat and 20.62 with his right arm mediums, helping Otago to third in the four-day championship. His form was even more effective in the one-dayers.

The province reached its first semi-final for years with Trott topping the batting averages on 91 and delivering wickets every 19.62 runs with the ball.

The now Warwickshire-based professional says the environment was conducive to perfecting his game.

"I had a good time in Dunedin. It wasn't the busiest place so I took the opportunity to improve my cricket. I've had a few chances to return but injury or representing the England Lions [England B] has prevented me."

He was also lured by the affable nature of Otago coach Mike Hesson who originally picked his CV from the pile.

"I still keep in contact with Mike. He was a good influence on me. He doesn't impose himself heavily on people or try to curb guys' cricketing flair." Hesson says Trott was a standout applicant.

"He was confident in his own ability, had no fear, possessed a terrific work ethic and overall was good for our team. They're not easy to pick. Every time you employ an overseas pro, you've got to do your ground work.

"Obviously he had a reasonable record at that stage, not as good as now but he was technically sound and said the right things. You have to make sure they're coming for the right reasons. His main reason was to push his case for higher honours later on. You don't want someone coming over for the money or a holiday."

A member of that Otago team, New Zealand Twenty20 all-rounder Nathan McCullum, said: " He did everything you could have asked of a pro."

- Herald on Sunday

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