IT may only have been a low-key warm-up clash for England’s second string, but Jonathan Trott’s half-century against Gauteng Invitation XI yesterday could prove an important step on course to international rehabilitation.
The 33-year-old England Lions skipper scored an unbeaten 79 from 127 balls during his side’s second innings and his first international match since departing last winter’s disastrous Ashes tour with a stress-related illness.
The resumption of his 49-match Test career is far from assured and Trott will hope to continue firing on the tour of his homeland and the two four-day clashes against South Africa A, starting in Paarl on Sunday.
England have a packed schedule of Test cricket following its current hiatus due to the World Cup, with series against West Indies and New Zealand acting as a prelude to the summer’s Ashes showdown.
The carrot for Trott is Australia, a nation he has faced more than any other, scoring 917 runs and three centuries in 21 innings at 48.26, although the Warwickshire man is focusing more on the shorter-term.
“I’m feeling really good. It’s nice obviously to get some runs today and go to Cape Town with a bit of confidence and hopefully continue that in Paarl,” said Trott.
“I think we had a really good hit-out as a team, everyone got a go, and we got what we needed and we’re looking forward to Cape Town.
“It’s been an interesting challenge for me captaining as well, I haven’t done it for a while but I’ve always enjoyed it, so captaining for the first time has been nice and I’m looking forward to the next two games.”
Trott’s 79 was the standout contribution of England Lions’ second innings total of 176-5 declared on the final day’s play in Soweto, although Kent’s Sam Billings struck 53 before retiring as the hosts were set 441 to win.
All 15 members of England’s squad were able to take part, meaning eight bowlers were utilised, reducing Gauteng to 57-5 and then 120-8 before a draw was agreed with storm clouds gathering.