Morkel, Trott and digger wasps

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Jonathan Trott’s guard-marking routine is infamous. He has a series of things he NEEDS to do before he’s happy to face a delivery.

Morne Morkel’s turn at the start of his run-up is less well-known, but is seemingly just as deeply ingrained. It seems he can’t run into bowl without doing a full 360 degree turn at the outset.

In this Test, Morkel and Trott have clashed.

Where do wasps come into this?

Digger wasps paralyse their prey before taking it back to their nest. However, rather than taking the insect straight into the nest, they first leave it outside so that they can check that everything’s okay indoors. Having confirmed this, they then come outside to collect it and bring it in.

Ordinarily, this all works well enough, but if some devious person moves the prey while the wasp’s inside the nest – even by just an inch – then the wasp is set back a stage. It will pick up the insect, return it to the original spot and then go back inside to check everything’s okay again. If you’re the one moving the prey, you can actually do this again and again and the wasp will never learn.

So how’s that relevant?

Because it’s pointless behaviour repeated mindlessly given the right stimulus. It seems that Trott’s pre-delivery routine is triggered by the bowler turning round and being as Morkel’s pre-delivery routine involves turning round, the pair of them have been getting caught in an OCD loop.

Morkel turns to begin his run-up and when Trott sees the bowler facing the other way, he immediately finds himself pacing and pawing at the crease, as he always does between balls. Morkel then has to stop and wait for Trott to finish. When Trott is finally ready to face a delivery, Morkel turns to begin his run-up and the same thing happens again.


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  1. Inevitably, I wikipediaed the damn wasp. Then I wikipediaed Trott. I discovered that Trott is married to the grand-daughter of Tom Dollery. Tom Dollery played cricket for England and Warwickshire. Did you know that Tom and his wife Jean became the stewards at Edgbaston Golf club? I know, took me by surprise as well.

    All this is about as interesting as Trott.

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