Jonathan Trott is easily the leading one-day run scorer in the world this calendar year. Only a couple of players are even close to his 1100-plus runs in that format since November last year. And yet he remains as much the problem as the solution to England’s one-day development.
He is undoubtedly a fine player. Phlegmatic, unflappable, reliable, amazingly consistent, and with the added ability to occasionally get up the opposition’s nose which is always valuable.
But watching his batting in the first one-day international between England and India in Hyderabad rekindled old memories of the player who goes at his own pace, hits the ball into his own spaces, ticking along nicely but hardly threatening.
He tends to bat in one gear, which is a great asset in Test cricket and one of the secrets of England’s phenomenal scoring of late (six totals over 500, and one of 700, this year). The batsmen, led by Cook and Trott, have learnt to play in a methodical, timeless way with no real heed to the scoreboard or the situation or their own feelings of freedom or relaxation. They have just kept churning out the runs.
In one-day cricket, however, you can’t do that. There isn’t the time for a carefully-compiled and crafted innings to play out. More assertiveness, even explosiveness, is required. So, in Hyderabad, when England were in pursuit of 300, and the two top dashers – Keiswetter and Pietersen – had gone, Cook and Trott needed to be proactive.
Cook was. There is an urgency about his one-day batting which suggests he has already successfully made the transition in this format from dogged to dasher. Trott, though, is more content to plod along picking up his singles and twos against an assortment of medium pacers and spinners. He rarely, if ever, looks to go over the top and hit boundaries except if the situation is desperate.
He still gets his runs, it is true. The statistics don’t lie. But the WAY he gets them appears to put other players under pressure. (It always seems to be poor Tim Bresnan’s lot to come in and find eight an over from the word go.) Somehow Trott needs to be more proactive – and his dismissal to an ugly slog yesterday suggests he doesn’t find that easy – to help England develop further as a one-day side.
Andy Flower admits that the one-day game is actually more complicated than Test cricket. What he really means is that it is harder to control. Persistence and perseverance work in Test cricket – it is almost like a test of endurance. You can plan, scientifically, for most eventualities, and England do.
In one-day cricket one electric performance can totally change the game (witness Dhoni in Hyderabad) and there is no time or scope for recovery. Which is why every one of England’s one-day team needs to be a potential game-changer, irrespective of their statistics.