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Jonathan Trott interview: International past is no hard place for England’s rock

Ross McLean
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Fourth Test - Australia v England: Day Two
Jonathan Trott averaged close to 45 from his 52 Test matches (Source: Getty)

If he had his own way Jonathan Trott might still have the ringing in his ears from an international curtain call this summer, but as he knows only too well, scripts sometimes need redrafting.

Such a picture book ending would have afforded the South Africa-born batsman, who became England’s rock at No3, a last opportunity to score a poignant Test century in Cape Town, his birthplace, last winter.

As it was, Trott aborted his renaissance as an England opener after his comeback series in the Caribbean in 2015, having fought back from the stress-related illness which forced his departure from an Ashes tour less than 18 months earlier.

Despite his imperious record, there is plenty of conjecture within his new autobiography “Unguarded” about how the three-time Ashes winner’s England career would be characterised and defined.

The man himself, who scored a century on debut against Australia and averaged close to 45 from his 52 Tests, appears to have closure on a sparkling, if at times troubled, stint on the international stage.

“That [international retirement in 2016 having toured South Africa in the winter] would have been the ideal world,” Trott told City A.M.

“A year or two before I left the tour of Australia, that’s where I’d earmarked to leave and sign off.

“That would have been the dream but not many people get their fairytale towards the end of their career. I had my fairytale in my first Test match so at least I had one.

“But I was very proud of getting back into the England side from some real lows, picking myself up off the canvass and giving it another crack.

“Being in the England side on merit for the second time is something I’m very proud of. There were certain things I would have liked to have done differently but overall I am very proud of my career.

GIVE AND TAKE

“I have a lot of fond memories. When you’re with the England side you immerse yourself and it becomes your second family.

“You of course have some tough tours, some tough weeks, but there is give and take within an international career. I certainly remember a lot of things off the field but there are certainly a lot of things on it which I remember as well.”

His playing days are far from over. Trott remains integral to Warwickshire’s top-order, averaging more than 40 in the County Championship during the summer and chalking up a match-winning knock of 82 during last month’s One-Day Cup final against Surrey at Lord’s.

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With one eye on the future, the 35-year-old has dipped his toe in the media although long term he has designs on following in his father Ian’s footsteps and embarking upon a coaching career.

Given the stress-related problems that have tormented him and boiled over in Brisbane in 2013, Trott is also determined to offer his services in a pastoral capacity to any players harbouring similar demons.

“I’m open to anybody if they feel they need a bit of support, advice or guidance with regards to how they’re feeling, whether that is on the field or off it,” added Trott.

“When you’ve played the game for England at a certain level, it’s your responsibility to give back to the game in any way you can and I’m intent on doing that.

“I see it as an important role of mine to give back to anyone I can in order to make the England team better or the future of English cricket stronger.

“Funnily enough, towards the end [of my international career] some England players came to me and said ‘I think I was experiencing something similar to what you were going through’.

“I was like ‘thanks for telling me, lads’ after I had said what I had been going through in public. But it’s about getting it out there, for some players just being able to chat about it would be important.”

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Trott’s dependable presence at the crease and the trenches he excavated while there became an increasingly reassuring sight as England surged to the summit of the Test rankings in 2011. It seemed that when Trott thrived so did England.

He also averaged above 50 from 68 ODIs and, although his strike-rate was regularly questioned and maligned, he was a firm fixture of the England XI which topped the one-day rankings for the first time in 2012.

The modern day England side missed the chance to emulate the class of 2011 and hit the No1 Test spot by losing the final red-ball tussle of the summer against Pakistan at the Kia Oval in August – a temporary blip, according to Trott.

“I hope they go one better than we did and win a one-day trophy,” he said. “I also hope they go back to Australia and retain the Ashes, it’s really important that happens.

“I’m not one of those guys that hopes nobody emulates or does what we did. I hope English cricket gets stronger and dominates world cricket. I think they’re capable of doing that. They are really, really talented players.”

Looking over shoulders

If and when England wrestle the initiative and reach No1 again, Trott has urged them not to fall into the same trap as him and his colleagues, and ensure their aims and objectives are recalibrated.

“That’s crucial. That was a mistake on our part not doing that,” added Trott. “I don’t know if the current side’s goal is to be No1. I’m not sure what their focus is or what goals they are setting themselves. Perhaps they are simply setting the goal of being as good as they can be.

“But we had a target and when we attained it, it was almost a case of ‘what do we do now?’ Before we were chasing down the No1 title and then we were looking over our shoulders.

“But, that said, I am immensely proud of what that very talented England side achieved. It was nice to be a part of that and play with those guys. We were very successful for a while there.”

Very few could disagree with that sentiment.

Unguarded: My Autobiography, by Jonathan Trott is available to buy now, RRP £20

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