ENGLAND have never replaced Jonathan Trott and should treasure him as one of the finest number three’s in the country’s history.
That’s the view of Ashley Giles, Warwickshire’s sport director, who witnessed Trott’s transformation from an impetuous youth to one of English cricket’s most reliable and insatiable run-getters.
The former England man signed off by helping Warwickshire to the division two title this week after a sensational career for both county and country.
Despite cutting his England career short – Trott played the last of his 52 Tests in May 2015 – the 37-year-old continued to score prolifically for Warwickshire and only just missed out on posting 1000 runs in his final season in domestic cricket.
It’s his runs for England, though, that live longest in the memory, with his heroics in the final Test of the 2009 Ashes coupled with his consistency in the 2010-11 series Down Under that played such a huge role in one of the country’s most successful ever periods.
And it’s his relentless appetite for runs that, Giles believes, sets him apart from his contemporaries.
“We’re going to miss him, absolutely no doubt about that,” he says. “He’s going to leave a gap because he has been one of the best players in the country for a long time.
“The first time I ever saw him was on his debut against Sussex here and he got 90 before lunch. You could definitely see that he had something but, at that time though, he was a bit scrambled in his approach.
“He developed into someone famous for his scratching at the crease – almost digging a trench there. He became very process-driven and some of the best players are. He was very structured in his thinking. When he was at his best, I don’t think I would have anyone else batting for my life than him. He managed the percentages so well, he didn’t like getting out.
“England have been crying out for another Jonathan Trott to come off the rank but they’ve never really replaced him.
“He really emphasised just how crucial that number three role was – was it any coincidence that England had that run of success when he was batting there? I don’t think so.”
If Kevin Pietersen was an irresistible force during that period for England, then Trott was most definitely the immovable object, proving an obdurate presence and a man capable of wearing down some of the best bowling attacks in world cricket.
His ability to ignore distractions and focus only on the next ball also served to make him the linchpin of England’s batting line-up.
“Whether you lost a wicket to the first ball of the innings or in the 50th over, he always came in with the same approach,” says Giles. “He would say ‘I don’t care what everyone else is doing, I’m here to score runs.
“That’s why when he made his debut against Australia I knew that the situation wasn’t going to be too much for him because he was playing so well before he got the call.
“He took each ball as it came in that Test and he went and got a hundred.
Unlike Alastair Cook’s fairy-tale farewell at the Oval, Trott was denied the opportunity to go out on a high, eventually calling time on his England career after a disappointing tour to the West Indies.
It was hardly a fitting end.
“I don’t really remember anyone else having the kind of final week that Alastair Cook had,” says Giles. “Most people have a very different exit from Test cricket – it can be awkward and uncomfortable. It’s a highly pressurised environment and it takes a lot out of you.”