England are confident their surprise call-up of Warwickshire batsman Jonathan Trott for this week’s Fourth Ashes Test will not backfire in a similar manner to last year’s shock selection for the Headingley Test.
Just 12 months ago, the selectors decided to choose Australian-born Nottinghamshire seamer Darren Pattinson for his one and only Test against South Africa and faced a storm of protest about his roots Down Under.
Although Pattinson claimed two wickets, his selection ahead of Durham’s Steve Harmison was regarded as a mistake with England slumping to a ten-wicket defeat which contributed to them losing the series and forced the resignation of Michael Vaughan as captain.
But as they prepare to return to Headingley for Friday’s next encounter, national selector Geoff Miller has been prepared to take a bold step again by choosing 28-year-old Trott, who was born and raised in South Africa, as one of two changes to a 14-man squad.
It is a selection which is bound to be scrutinised, but coach Andy Flower insisted there were no qualms bringing him into the Test squad for the first time to give them an option of playing six specialist batsmen should Andrew Flintoff fail to recover from persistent right knee problems. Asked about his South African connections, coach Andy Flower stressed: “That does not concern me. He has committed himself to Warwickshire and English cricket and has been committed for quite a while.
“He has already played one or two Twenty20 games for England, he has been on Lions tours, he has been in that Warwickshire dressing room for a long time and it does not worry me.”
Trott’s credentials for playing for England are further muddied by a distant relation to Albert Trott, who played Tests for England and Australia, and his brother George, a member of Australia’s Ashes tour party four times between 1888 and 1896. Trott played for all South Africa’s age group sides up to under-19s before switching to qualify for international cricket with England through his father Ian.
His first experience of international cricket was not a good one when he scored just 11 runs in two Twenty20 Internationals against West Indies two years ago. There were whispers he struggled to fit in with some of the dressing room on that occasion, but that is of no concern to Flower.
“I was involved when he last played and thought he fitted in fine and I am pretty certain he will fit in absolutely fine again in our environment,” said Flower.
Trott’s resurgence as an international prospect has followed a summer where he has averaged over 90 in first class cricket after following the advice of Warwickshire coach – and selector – Ashley Giles about how best to force his way into the England set-up.
“It’s helped being involved with the A side in the last two winters, getting to know not only the playing staff but also the backroom staff,” admitted Trott.
“It makes going into the changing room a lot easier so the last two winters with the Lions have been a massive eye-opener about how it works and I’m really excited and feel a lot more comfortable.
“Playing in the Ashes could be a huge thing. It’s something you wait all your life to be given this sort of opportunity. It will be something new and Ashley told me on the phone earlier today that every player is nervous before their first Test – I will look to enjoy the moment, be positive and believe in myself.”