The Jonathan Trott era

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Jonathan Trott doing that thing where he absent-mindedly looks around the ground as if he's on his own and there aren't thousands of people looking at him

Can we make this ‘a thing’? We’re pretty sure it’s a thing.

The story goes like this: England pick Trott, he scores a hundred and they reclaim the Ashes. He then spends the next four years shielding the middle order so that it – and also the lower order – can cash in against weary, dispirited bowling attacks. At the same time, he gives his own side’s seamers nice, long armchair stints. England win quite a lot during this period. Then Trott struggles and England deteriorate. Then he leaves and England lose.

Small things

We mention this because today’s play is a good example of how the difference between two teams can widen like the cracks in the Waca pitch as a match progresses. What you see later in the game can be a little deceptive. Despite the tweets appearing on-screen during Sky Sports’ daily review show (who sends those?), we’re not suddenly seeing a dire England team and nor are we seeing an exceptional Australia team.

We’re not saying that England are but a whisker away from winning these matches, but we are saying that Shane Watson is the kind of batsman who’ll score a hundred when his team’s already 300-and-odd ahead and looking to bat for a declaration against four-fifths of a bowling attack that’s absolutely had it.

Australia are the better side in this series, but just as the 3-0 scoreline earlier in the year flattered England, so the individual match results in this series have led to too much opprobrium being heaped upon them. People love to moan – particularly English people – but they should shut up and consider that apparently big changes are often seeded by small things.

So with Trott, England would be winning?

No. We’re really just contriving an example in order to instruct overly-emotional Pommie whingers to bring it down a notch or two.

The simplified explanation of Trott’s influence that we gave at the start of this article depicts a kind of virtuous domino effect where top order solidity enables middle order consolidation which then permits a profitable lower order payout. You could paint it as being 20 more runs from number three allowing 50 more runs from eight, nine and ten – all with the added benefit that the team’s innings is extended in duration, which is great for your bowlers and terrible for those playing for the opposition. It ain’t great for their batsmen either, for that matter. Compound this over the course of a series and suddenly you’re number one in the world.

But it’s not built on much. Matches were won as a result of players cashing in on strong positions and when this happened, those players looked amazing. But those cash-in players have to stand on someone else’s shoulders.

Still not getting what this has to do with this terrible England side?

It’s not directly linked to the Trott thing. In a sense it’s a bad example, precisely because it seems like it should be so pertinent. We’re really just pleading for a sense of proportion; saying that although England are getting battered, they probably don’t deserve to be pilloried.

England have spent the vast majority of this series batting from behind. You can’t write off the second innings performances, but you do have to remember that Australia’s second innings have been played in entirely different circumstances. Same pitch, same weather, an entirely different level of pressure.

Australia’s bowling has also been tighter than a mouse’s ear. England’s fans are hugely focused on England’s players, but the bad shots you see in the highlights are preceded by a hell of a lot of restraint. Patience isn’t a constant quality. It’s something which can be eroded.

And England’s bowling? It’s not been far off. Again, second innings performances are not unimportant, but they are of somewhat diminished importance. You can’t ask Jimmy Anderson to be at his best when an Australian declaration is inevitable. He only has so much to give. First innings wise, England’s bowlers have been close. They’ve tended to dismiss the top five or six before running out of steam. It’s been a bit like watching a Gladiators contender sprinting for the top of the travelator in the final round. Sometimes the difference between reaching the top and ending up in a heap at the bottom is just a fingertip.

England have been second-best

Let’s be clear about this – let’s be utterly, utterly clear about this – but can we try and put the emphasis on ‘second’ rather than considering England to have come last. If nothing else, it’s disrespectful to the opposition to make out like only one team has any influence on the outcome of a cricket match.


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  1. Agreed.

    I’d also say that it’s the media that likes to peddle this line, because… oh I don’t know, just because. Agnew was on R4 this morning. If any combination can be said to be solidly non-sensationalist, it is surely Agnew on R4. Yet even he was saying that “there must be wholesale changes” for the next test. This is utterly, utterly wrong.

    England, throughout this period of success, has occasionally struggled to win when the going gets easy. In 2009 we lost an away series against the (rubbish) West Indies. Since then we’ve won 12 of 17 series, with the others being two series against SA (good), Pakistan (poor), SL (middling) and NZ (rubbish). There seems to be a lack of focus.

    Remember the last Ashes in Australia, when Graeme Swann’s video diary was a surprise hit. This time it has had an official sponsor. That’s how much England are focussed on the cricket.

    1. Yeah, wholesale changes don’t really seem appropriate.

      Broad might not play, due to injury.
      I don’t see the point in dropping Prior right now. Though I guess people may see this differently.
      None of the top/middle order deserve the chop to make way for Ballance (an unknown quantity) or (a known one).
      Why drop Bresnan after one test when it’s most likely he’ll get better rather than worse in the next one. Let’s not forget what he did in Melbourne 3 years ago.

      So, one change? Maybe Aggers was thinking of the TMS lunch rota, where wholemeal changes are being considered in the sandwich department.

    2. Is Stokes good enough to play as a specialist bowler? Maybe Ballance in for an injured Broad?
      To be honest Prior could go too if you have someone better with the gloves on the sideline, otherwise I guess he gets a pass for the rest of the series. It’s one thing to not score runs from number 7, it’s another if you are failing to track the ball whilst keeping.

  2. Agreed KC. Spot on.

    As Bert has brought TMS into it… Blofeld mistook Tim Bresnan for Phil DeFreitas today, then talked about using his binoculars to look at women in the crowd. I don’t really like Blofeld, if I am honest.

    1. He represents almost all of our least favourite things about cricket. But at the same time the rather large contrarian part of us finds it funny that someone can be that bad at a high profile job and yet retain it.

  3. Australia need to be careful. They keep setting England lower and lower targets, and England’s second innings scores keep getting higher. At this rate, in a series or two they’ll chase one down.

    1. 4-1 and we win on Away Tests?

      Actually, I was being unduly pessimistic about England’s chance. Assuming they continue their current rate of improvement, they’ll be all out for around 445, and in the next Test, will chase down a target of 470 with ease.

  4. I had to google the phrase “tighter than a mouse’s ear” — I’d never heard that one before. Let’s just say I am glad no one was around when I clicked on some of the links.

    1. My father used to use the expression “tighter than a gnat’s arse” to describe the same phenomenon.

      I’m not going to Google either, based on your advice, Deep Cower.

      Thanks for the tip.

      (I have just Googled “thanks for the tip” and am absolutely horrified by some of the images depicted.)

    2. Indeed they were, Patrick.

      But I think there must be something amiss with the Google search.

      On learning that Ben Stokes hails from Cockermouth, I googled the name of that town and got presented with the same shocking images as when I googled “thanks for the tip”.

      All very irregular.

  5. Now I haven’t watched the segment but cricinfo have something entitled ‘Is Stokes the new Garry Sobers?’

    This website is the only one I can find talking sense. 72n.o. And being compared to Sobers!

    1. Thank goodness Cricinfo has avoided the over-used and ludicrously sensationalistic, “Is Stokes the new Ian Botham?” headline.

      This is indeed a victory for common sense.

    2. Seen it now.

      It’s just our old (former?) mate Jarrod Kimber having a laugh at England’s expense. Never liked him much…when Australia were winning.

      His wife, Miriam, was great, in the old days, when she used to hang around here…

  6. Thanks royal one. Great article and just what I needed. All those sharks whipped to a frenzy by a bit of blood in the water and all those incompetent people taking delight in the first failure need to work out why they need to boost their own self importance attacking.
    Watson and Warner have had a chance to play 20 20 today but we know they still can’t play test cricket.
    The England team will get their confidence back when they get a chance to fight on an even playing field without boiling or being handicapped by expectations.

    1. I have no love for Warner but he has been quite brilliant this series. You don’t get scores of (49, 124, 29, 83*, 60, 112) against a very good attack with 20/20 batting. The comparison with Watson is quite unfair (except in the sense of both being pricks).

    2. Oh dear, dear. Classic case of poor loser. Of course, the Ashes should only ever be played in England under English conditions. It’s just not an even playing field otherwise. Not sporting, what?

  7. The answer is yes. It should be a “thing”. And I dont think Trott’s importance can ever be overplayed, if only for how often it has been underplayed.

  8. Has the curse of Cricketer of the Year been lifted from Prior and passed on as the poisonous chalice it is? Hope so.

  9. @HaydosTweets

    “Australia is back in business with the Ashes returning after 4 years…..#happyasafatspider #Ashesreturns #Ashes”

    Happy as a what now?

    1. Oh, see what he means. Forgot that a side had ‘possession of the Ashes’ until they lost.

      Also forgot that this ever lasted for more than a couple of months.

    2. #happyasafatspider ?

      That doesn’t make any sense, it’s just a random set of words with no spaces in between. Anyone can string a random set of words together and then take the spaces out. He might as well have said “# happy as am or on ice got is to aft watch ump” for all the sense it makes.

  10. *waves*

    I haven’t been here much lately – been a bit busy producing small people. But the real question is- I’m about to go to Melbourne but do I bother going to the cricket?

    1. Miriam’s Back!
      As in…

      And marvellous that you are back too. Small people plural? You do know what’s causing that, don’t you? But congratulations, etc. Crucial now that England gets back to winning form over the Australians, before your small people become old enough to choose a team to follow. No right thinking person would wish Shane Watson on them as a sports idol.

      Re: Melbourne, see the discussion on the next thread about Dead Rubber tests. Part of the heritage, Miriam. And in my experience, nothing winds an Australian up more than the English way of laughing off a cricket catastrophe.

  11. Bert the second small person is in chrysalis state at present. Re laughing it off perhaps i should get a T-shirt made with “England’s next Ashes-winning captain” on the bump area.

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