Jonathan Trott’s Test career came to an end in Barbados. Having debuted at the Oval in 2009, his time in the side neatly fits in with the period in which England were good, particularly so if we pretend everything since The Oval 2013 never happened. Amongst all the reminiscing about digging enormous trenches in front of middle stump and hilariously running people out three balls into games, though, something has been missed: the other string to Jonathan Trott’s bow, the one where he steamed in, sun glistening off the top of his balding head, to bowl the last over before tea.
Trott bowled 118 overs in his Test career, the equivalent of about four sessions of ceaseless medium pace, which is a tantilising prospect indeed. His overall figures end at 118-11-400-5, which puts him somewhere in the upper echelons of English seamers these days. After a slow start life in the (very) medium-fast lane, he took a wicket apiece in 2010, 2011 and 2012, before snaffling two in 2013. Unfortunately he didn’t bowl at all in 2014 (mainly because he didn’t play at all in 2014) but he was all ready to come back with a bang this year. The data, however, restricted him to 1-0-2-0 across the three games and, with that, he was gone.
The first to fall to the Trottatron was Jahurul Islam at Lord’s. England were in danger of slightly messing things up (we were surprised too) having made Bangladesh follow-on only to see them reach 289/2 in their second innings. Enter Trott. As the lead ticked past 50, with his team in desperate need of inspiration, he tore in to the Bangladesh middle order. In the middle of a four over spell described as “gentle stuff from Trott” by no less an authority than the Cricinfo ball-by-ball commentary, he struck. Jahurul, reeling from the thorough going-over he’d just received, helplessly wilted and popped a catch back to the bowler. From then on it was all downhill for the tourists as they collapsed to 383 all out and lost by eight wickets, with one IJL Trott hitting the winning runs to add to his first innings double hundred and cap one of the great all round performances.
A year later and England were back at Lord’s, this time to play Sri Lanka. Our memories of this particular game are that it was one of the dullest we’ve ever witnessed, but there was one moment of light (actually two, because this was the game where Matt Prior was run out in the second innings, before calmly returning to the dressing room and gently placing his gloves down by a window which then mysteriously smashed and showered the members with glass). With the match headed for a draw, Andrew Strauss threw the ball to Trott once more. Almost immediately, Tharanga Paranavitana became the first man to fall into Trott’s carefully laid LBW trap. He would not be the last.
The LBW Trott train roared next into Dubai station, as England slipped to their first comedy defeat of the winter. Before their true incompetence had really taken hold, and Pakistan had only just edged ahead in their first innings, Strauss turned to Trott. Within six balls, the mighty figure of Younis Khan had fallen to the trademark medium-pacer that just nips in off the seam and makes you look a right mug if you miss it. This particular bit of captaincy/bowling was “a masterstroke” according to the infallible Cricinfo. Which is presumably more than can be said for Younis’s effort.
The real red letter year for Trott’s bowling came in 2013. His first triumph came at Eden Park, in a match best remembered for England inexplicably letting Peter Fulton score twin hundreds and Monty Panesar’s less than serene running skills as he helped (in the loosest possible sense) Matt Prior save a draw. With Brendon McCullum setting himself to wallop England to all parts, that man Trott rode to the rescue again. Luring B-Mac into a drive, he deceived him with a hooping outswinger and had him caught behind. Out of 152 overs in the innings, Trott was afforded only a tidy six as seamers were run into the earth all around him. One wonders how the history of English cricket would have been altered had captains had more faith in their demon strike bowler.
As England’s spell of being quite good on the whole drew to a close with the final home Ashes Test of 2013, Trott delivered his final blow with the ball. In the shadow of a #Devereux hundred, he was given three of the 129 overs England bowled, as seamers were run into the earth all around him. Sound familiar? In the second of those, he struck, but not before the first ball of his over had been launched high into the stands by #Devereux to reach said hundred. We can excuse him that. He responded in spectacular fashion; with Brad Haddin on the charge he let slip a searing yorker which obliterated the Aussie ‘keeper’s stumps.
That was that. Given no overs in Brisbane and just the one at St George’s a couple of weeks ago, the immortal words “b Trott” were never to grace an international scorecard again. Denied even a bowl as the Barbados Test slipped away, and the chance at a Paul Collingwood-esque triumph with the ball even as his batting had gone to pieces.