I’ve not been inside Jonathan Trott’s head for the last two days, but I bet he’s had more than one nightmare in that time. You know the nightmare. You mark your guard on a flat pitch, twice, face a whole host of dot balls, clip a few on midwicket till you get to 60 runs, and then suddenly realize you’re naked as the bowler comes in and you play a rash cover drive giving up a hundred.
To make Trott feel worse, he’s had Amla showing him exactly what he should have done. Make a big hundred and bat the opposition out of the game. There is a little Trott in Amla, but not as much Amla in Trott.
Trott is not an ugly batsman to watch; if Graeme Smith is a Morlock (and he is) when he bats, then Trott is an Ewok. But Amla is something far more fetching. He bats in a way that tests the sexuality of many cricket fans. Every back-foot push through the covers sent the Oval crowd in semi-orgasmic murmurs. And, like Trott, he can bat for days and days without seemingly being affected by the world around him.
On a flat pitch like this, getting out players like Cook, Smith, Trott or Amla requires a shovel and industrial sized black bags.
South Africa were poor on day one, and they were lucky Trott helped them. Aside from Swann, the England bowlers were worse on the third day than South Africa were on day one. They haven’t been helped, as the ball hasn’t swung or seamed much, or at all.
The England seamers were punished for all the times opposition teams have had to stand there mute as English batsmen ground to massive totals. Had you stumbled into the ground after emerging from a coma, you’d have laughed at anyone suggesting this was the best bowling attack on earth. They were waiting for mistakes, and they might have to wait a few days for all ten of them. Their lack of creativity was staggering, and they seemed to lose their ability to keep the pressure on.
When Broad had two short midwickets for Amla as he bounced him, it stuck out as perhaps England’s first radical plan in 100 overs of cricket. It didn’t work. I’m not sure how you get Amla out on a pitch like this, but neither are England. You could offer him cheesecake in the hope he’s lactose intolerant. Surely England have a coach for that?
The ordeal seemed to send Strauss crazy. He was running around like a five-year-old school girl and breaking his glasses at various times. And he had a smile of a chilling serial killer, rather than his usual determined blank look. England have been so used to steam rolling opponents with efficiency, that they never expected South Africa to bounce back up. But they did, with the second new ball, and now the bat.
It’s not Trott’s fault. Many English players have been below par so far in this game. But I bet as Trott jogs from fine leg to fine leg, he’s thinking of how much he’d prefer to be the person boring and blunting the bowlers, and not just watching it. It’s what he does well, but over the last two days, it’s what Amla does better.
Trudging around cricket like a miserable bus traveller in the afternoon with unwashed clothes who has a facial tick that you don’t want to look at, but can’t look away from is Jonathan Trott. Started his career with an innings so composed everyone wanted to wear pads that looked too big for them and dive back to be run out in award winning photos. Then the honeymoon turned weird when he got to South Africa and his form cheated on him. Now he is back in form, although he never really looks in form even when he is. His batting is the very definition of gritty and his right arm swing bowling is less than serviceable, but far from embarrassing. His first name is Ian, but he uses Jonathan to distance himself from Bell. Wants to be Steve Waugh more than any person ever born in South Africa.
Last Ashes, I came up with a 100 Ashes facts. Since then I have written a book about the Ashes, I feel a special bond with this series. Now I have Ashes premonitions.
During the series the words stubborn, curmudgeon, phlegmatic, resigned, dour and sourpuss will be used to explain Simon Katich and Jonathan Trott when batting. The problem is, both of these men want to be known as more dour than the other.
After a gentleman’s agreement, they decide on having a boxing match to see who is the dourest of them all.
They book a gym, say publically that all proceeds are going to charity and decide on it being a knockout or die fight.
The first four rounds Trott looks like he is warming up, while Katich’s strange stance puts him off. Eventually a punch is thrown in round five, and from there both men dance around each other a lot, and try and work over the body.
Neither player ever throws a haymaker, or even a punch at the head, they just keep it tight at the body.
There is a lot of clinching from the 8th round on, with no referee, some whole rounds are just them hugging and wrestling.
12 rounds in, people start to leave.
The boxing doesn’t change, Katich gets annoyed that Trott isn’t always ready when the bell rings, and Trott can’t work out how to get through Katich’s tight weird defence.
During round 32 a Katich punch skids off Trott’s smooth chest and cops him in the jaw, he then takes a few seconds out to get himself back right, he does and they continue.
In the 41st Katich’s footwork gets him in trouble and he lunges past Trott and ends up getting his chest hairs caught in the rope.
By the 47th round, most of the spectators left there are sleeping or watching youtube videos of lolcats.
In the 52nd it is just Trott and Katich in the gym.
Both men come out of their corner, both tired, but still trying to out dour each other. They fall into an embrace, and the wrestling quickly turns into something more sexual, and they both realise that they have so much in common that fighting is not for them. They start to kiss, which quickly leads to passionate, awkward, slow love in the ring.
The next day they announce that the fight was a draw, as both men had withdrawn at the same time.
During Friday’s ODI game Kamran Akmal threw a hissy fit in the direction of Jonathan Trott.
It seems that Kamran thought Trott had made a sledge about NOTW exclusives.
Now, while I understand the need to sledge Kamran Akmal, for spot fixing or otherwise, I’d like to think Trotty could use some of these in the next ODIs.
“Hey Kamran, have you ever thought of auditioning for the Pakistani Live Action Simpsons film, perhaps for the Moe Syzslak role?”
“Your brother wears green lipstick, and he is still better looking than you.”
“Don’t worry, Kamran, we know you didn’t throw the Sydney test on purpose, you’re just really shit at keeping.”
” Shoaib Malik is a better bloke than you.”
“So Kamran, how much did you pay Broady to take down Haider?”
“Hey Kamran, no really this time, I’m sorry about before, I didn’t realise you were in such pain, I only just saw your batting average.”
“When I mark the pitch I think of your face.”
“You’re not good enough to look up Moin Khan’s asshole”.
“How much to all the other wicket keeping glove makers pay you to not use their gear?”
“That tenner you gave me had a bright green dot in the corner, should I be worried?”
“Inzi is the fat one, Shoaib the sex one, Afridi the crazy one, Asif the poppy one, Shoaib the cunt one, what does that make you, the fucken shit one?”
“Dude, you have green zinc smudged around your lips, have you been kissing your brother you sick fuck?”
When Australia were losing the Ashes there was a lot of talk of the statistical mugging Australia was giving England while still managing to quite beautifully lose the series.
This series has a similar story.
England had one batsman average over 45.
Even Bell and Cook who apparently came of age could only muster 44 and 41 between them.
Trott might be from South Africa, but there is no statistical proof that he even went, his average of 27 is even bad for an English number 3.
Then the two highest paid batsmen combined to average 49.
As world’s greatest hack Nigel Henderson pointed out to me, why are people talking about Daryl Harper.
Because it is funny and he is shit.
But once they stop chuckling at Daryl looking at the carnage of this series will not be pretty.
The bowling is not that much better, their bowling unit got more wickets than in the Ashes, but their averages do not inspire moans of pleasure.
Swann was the top wicket taker with 21, but his average was 31, Morkel took 19 wickets at 21.
Anderson took 16 wickets, which is respectable, at 34, Steyn took 15 at 23.
Had it not been for their new Jesus (I move on just that quick), the man who saved them twice and then was crucified, England could have gone down 3-1.
However, when you swim out of that faecic quagmire look at the actual scoreline. Not bad. The Ashes scoreline worked for England as well. Had England been offered these two results going in they would have taken them.
Somehow England have invented a style of play that means that very few players have to do anything, the rest turn up for the food, and yet they still remain competitive.
That is something I really can admire.
Dis-organised shitness with positive results, sort of like this website.
In his new book, i don’t know what it is called, Michael Vaughan writes about how Jonathan Trott celebrated with the South African team after they beat the English.
Actually he says that he saw Trott pat South African players on the back.
Up until ’97 that was a hanging offence in England.
You would think with a top order made from mostly South Africans this sort of stuff wouldn’t have drifted away.
Vaughan goes on to say,
“I suppose you might wish Trott was a bit more English, but after such a brilliant debut it appeared we had found another high-quality batsman.”
The question vaughan doesn’t seem to ask is that if Trott was more English would have had looked so good on debut.
For all Vaughan knows Trott could have been just slapping some ex team mates on the back for their deserved win.
Would people question Ravi Bopara’s Englishness if after India won a match he patted some guys he knew from the IPL on the back.
Trott isn’t about to transfer back to South Africa.
He might not be fighting for his country, but like Nash, Elliott and others, he looks like he will fight like hell to stay in International cricket. There are blokes who are born in England who don’t seem to fight that hard, maybe they are commies?
Even the daily telegraph are not so sure about Trott, look at their Freudian slip when typing out Trott’s rebuttal.
“My commitment to England is 10o per cent. I’ve spent seven years working hard to be able to wear the Three Lions and in that time my allegiance has never wavered.”
Perhaps Douggie Bollinger can help Trott with his “Teno” percent commitment.
What Trott should be doing is going around and slagging off all the South African boys like KP did, that is how you show your true Britishness.
It is not every day you play a match winning innings at home and away, but today Grant Elliot did.
Playing in his home town, for his club New Zealand, he timed his innings to perfection, even if he it didn’t always look like that.
New Zealand were trying to look nervous in their chase, but Elliot has a sea of calm singles as he let his skipper, New Zealand born, Daniel Vettori play the big shots.
The innings confused many seasoned cricket watchers as this was an important innings in a world wide ICC champion tournament, as a South African he was supposed to choke.
Instead he held firm, resolute, stoic, non-chokey.
Earlier this year in the Ashes South African born, bred, and accented Jonathan Trott played his debut in an Ashes deciding test and excelled.
Even the great KP, when not hampered by captaincy or injuries, handles the pressure better than the men in green.
So why then does the South African team melt under similar pressures?
Surely Trott and Elliott cannot be that special, because if they were they would be playing for their country and not be cricket mercenaries.
So the answer must be that South Africans don’t choke, the South African cricket team chokes.
For years, about 19 of them, we have just assumed that it is the nation and the way they play cricket, unlike other nations they have had no reason to use players from other countries, so we could never do a proper test on whether it was the team enviroment or the national identity.
Now we know, without Elliot’s steadfast innings, and his bowling against England, New Zealand would not be in the final of this oh so important ICC white jacket tournament.
I think South Africa should think about a re-branding for international tournaments.
Or a cricket exorcism, I think Navjot Sidhu does them.
Jonathan Trott was born in South Africa.
So were Andrew Strauss and Matt Prior.
Throw in Kevin Pietersen and that’s 1/4 of the 16 players England have called up this summer who were born Saffers.
I don’t have a problem with this. England has a proud tradition of utilising players from the former colonies. Heck, some of them – Dexter, Grieg, Lamb (once) and two of the above have gone on to captain the side.
My problem is that we’re clearly missing a trick. None of these have produced offspring who were also born abroad (preferably in SA). This shows a serious lack of forward planning by the ECB. Hell, Strauss was even allowed to return home from a tour to be with his wife whilst she gave birth. In England. What the ECB should’ve done was to ship her out to Jo’burg at 24 weeks, then confine her there until after the big squeeze.
They made the same mistake with Mrs Prior, too, which just shows what a bunch of braindeads they are.
KP has to be next in the frame. He’s got a few weeks where he can’t really do anything but put his feet up and he’s known to enjoy spending extra time with Jessica. If Geoff Miller hasn’t stuck the pair of them on a plane to Durban by now, he should be penning his resignation letter first thing in the morning. The future of English cricket demands nothing less.