25 November 2013

England rock Trott will be sorely missed

Photograph from Wikipedia

For decades England trialled multiple top order batsmen for the vacant number three role, from county run machines (e.g Mark Ramprakash and Graeme Hick) to young prodigies (e.g Rob Key and John Crawley), but all failed to meet the demands of being the first man in after the new ball in Test match cricket. 

But then came the answer to the woe; the latest world-class South African-born batter Jonathan Trott. For the four years since his Ashes-winning hundred at the Oval in 2009 he has been the glue that has given the England team their greatest level of stability in many a year.

The stress-related illness that has prematurely ended his Ashes tour is a long-standing one that has been heightened by the pressure of back-to-back Ashes series and all in the world of cricket, especially England supporters, will wish him a quick and speedy recovery.

His idiocentric manner at the crease calms the England batting line-up and his statistics speak for themselves. With a World Cup less than two years away his reliability in the one-day scene could also potentially be a great loss to Alastair Cook's men if he follows the pattern set by England's previous sufferers of mental illness, Marcus Trescothick and Michael Yardy, and does not return. 

But the determined and battling qualities he has always brought to the field of play suggest that a return may not be too far around the corner. 

Jonathan Trott's international record


But for now England have a decision to make that could determine the destiny of the little urn come January. It is highly unlikely that an uncapped player such as Gary Ballance will be thrown straight into the top order in the viper-pit that is down under, but picking Jonny Bairstow would be risky at best given his summer form. 

So the only other option is to promote someone from down the order and despite having a poor record at three Ian Bell should get the position over Joe Root on a temporary basis. He is England's only batsman in top form and although Root is used to facing the new ball he needs time to build his game, although he will probably find himself at number five in Adelaide. 

Kevin Pietersen is an outside shout but putting him in so early would be the equivalent of Wayne Rooney playing at centre-back, KP needs protection, not added responsibility. 

That leaves England back with their usual problem position, the one they thought they had plugged with Root, number six. Matt Prior is batting worse than Geoffrey Boycott's grandmother so can not move up a spot, meaning that a five-man attack and a place for Ben Stokes is out of the question. That leaves the two players mentioned previously and Ballance wins the battle of the Yorkshire men courtesy of his superior county form in the summer. 

He has everything from the ability to score runs quickly and to dig in when needed and is by far Andy Flower's best option. 

England should have enough to go on and retain the Ashes, but with no Trott in the team it is a much tougher ask. 

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