REJUVENATED batsman Jonathan Trott will have the opportunity to take a significant step towards resuming his international Test career in the new year after being summoned for England Lions duty yesterday.
The 33-year-old has not featured for England since an abrupt departure from last winter’s Ashes debacle with a stress-related illness but has been named in a 14-man party for the second string’s tour of South Africa.
Trott aborted his initial return to county cricket with Warwickshire at the start of the domestic season but rekindled memories of former glories after a more successful comeback in May.
The South African-born right-hander scored 620 runs in eight county championship matches, including three centuries, at an average of 47.69 while also maintaining his impressively consistent one-day form by notching 488 runs in nine innings at 54.22.
The Lions are due to play two four-day games and five one-dayers against South Africa A in January and February, with Trott selected in the provisional squad – to be confirmed in December – for first-class matches only.
“Jonathan Trott’s exceptional form and run-scoring exploits for Warwickshire at the end of the summer has resulted in his selection for the first-class fixtures at the beginning of the tour,” said national selector James Whittaker.
Trott lost his central contract in September but now stands to win the 50th cap of a Test career which started with a debut in the tense final joust of the 2009 Ashes series.
He proved himself to be a pivotal force during England’s surge to the summit of the Test rankings in 2011, cementing his position at No3 and scoring a total of 3763 runs from 49 matches to date.
There will be increased scrutiny of the Lions this winter with England’s senior side concentrating solely on limited-overs cricket ahead of the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, which starts in February.
England’s next Test engagement is a three-match tour of the West Indies in April, with Trott unlikely to be the sole batsman under the microscope in South Africa.
Middlesex opener Sam Robson, who played all seven summer Tests but failed to impress sufficiently to earn a central contract, is also included in the touring party. Robson will likely be competing with Yorkshire duo Adam Lyth and Alex Lees as well as Nottinghamshire’s Alex Hales, who has so far been restricted to one-day cricket, for selection in the first Test in Antigua.
Highs and lows of the last year
■ Nov 2013: Trott departed England’s Ashes tour with a stress-related illness after the first Test in Brisbane
■ April 2014: The 33-year-old announces an indefinite break from cricket after just one competitive match for Warwickshire on return
■ July 2014: Trott scored his first century in top-level cricket since making a second comeback, notching 106 against Sussex at Horsham