Cricket: Terrific Trott flying below radar

By David Leggat

Numbers prove rock solid No 3 perceived as uninspiring is quite the contrary with bat in hand

Should England win tonight's ODI decider, there's a fair chance Jonathan Trott will be a significant contributor.

Here is a case where numbers can disprove a perception. The rock solid No 3 batsman made half centuries in the first two games of the ANZ international series, his first innings since a century in the series-clinching Nagpur test in mid-December.

First his 68 off 90 balls helped lay the groundwork for what should have been a substantial England total at Hamilton's Seddon Park, which the later batsmen fluffed.

In Napier on Wednesday, Trott struck 65 not out off 73 balls, putting on an undefeated, pacey 121 with young player of the moment Joe Root.

Not bad going, by any stretch, although in these hectic T20 days when run-a-ball scoring is rated barely par, Trott tends to be the first name raised as a candidate for scapegoat if England's batting doesn't collectively send opposing bowlers into orbit.

But hang on a moment. Consider Trott averages 50.89 in his 56 ODIs. His strike rate is 75.24.

Only Joe Root, who has played just two ODIs, has a better average among England's leading batsmen. Trott is 13 runs per innings superior to Ian Bell; 10 ahead of his captain Alastair Cook and nine up on flamboyant Kevin Pietersen.

His strike rate is superior to Bell; marginally behind Cook. And here's the clincher: of the 23 matches in which Trott has scored 50 or more, England have won 16.

So it's no wonder Trott is inclined to bristle when the subject of his ODI batting is raised. True, he can be one-paced. Slogging out isn't his natural go.

But his range of shots is good, he keeps the board ticking over. Maybe it's just that because he gathers his runs at a measured rate, and not with big statement shots, he doesn't catch the eye as others do.

"As long as I'm playing according to the instructions and guidelines given to me by the coach and captain, I can't do much more than that," he said.

He sat out the ODI series in India recently. It was his turn to rotate in an outwards direction. It might not initially have sat comfortably with a 31-year-old, raised in Cape Town, who has a voracious appetite for runs.

"It wasn't hard to take but it took a while to get my head round it and to see the reasoning behind it," he said this week. "I am sitting here thinking it was actually a very good idea.

"You rest, so that you're fresh when you come back in and it's important you perform when you do that. It's definitely beneficial in the long run. Come the end of the Ashes [later this year] I think you'll see the benefit of players having a rest and you can see the method behind it."

Trott spent a season with Otago in 2005-06, scoring 275 runs at 39.28 in eight innings. Call it New Zealand's part in his development. His father, Ian, retains the link by spending half a year coaching the Parnell premier team. Trott junior was at the club last night signing autographs.

"Playing for England is a big responsibility, and brings the pressure of being able to perform when it matters and counts," Trott said. And that he does, in his distinctive, hugely efficient way.

Where it counts

Jonathan Trott's ODI numbers
56 games, 2341 runs, average 50.89, strike rate 75.24

- NZ Herald

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