Silly or serious – the two faces of Jonathan Trott
England batsman ready for the Ashes
JONATHAN TROTT smiles, more amiably than his reputation would ever suggest, while pondering his unexpected starring role as the stand-up comedian figure in the England team’s comedy video produced to wish the British and Irish Lions well in Australia.
“I just want to say all the best to all the South Africans in the Lions team,” delivered Trott in his best deadpan manner.
Then, glancing to his right, the punchline: “You mean they’re not riddled with them as well?”
It was a rare example, publicly at least, of the humour of a man who is regarded by the outside world as one of the more serious, defensive and even grumpy members of the England team.
“It took a few takes but I got there in the end,” said Trott. “It’s funny how a little thing like that can have a huge effect.”
It is a side of him that it would be nice to see more of.
“People say to me that I never smile but if you asked the team they would probably say I’m the one who laughs and jokes the most,” insisted Trott.
“I don’t care if I look serious when I’m playing because that’s my job, that’s what I do.
“It is a serious business! People say ‘give me a wave’ on the boundary, or ‘ don’t be grumpy,’ but I’m concentrating,”he said
“It’s the same in press conferences. I don’t want to come across as happy- go- lucky because it is quite important to say the right thing.
“Sometimes it’s the right time to have a joke and sometimes it isn’t.”
He is certainly more serious than funny man when we meet at The Oval, where it all started for him in Test cricket with a stunning hundred on debut in the Ashes decider four years ago.
Trott has rarely looked back since, but never quite gets the acclaim or admiration he deserves for becoming a leading figure, albeit a methodical one, in the England team.
Trott, with a Test average of 50 and a one-day average of almost 53, remains a curiously under-appreciated figure.
“I think Andy Flower and Ashley Giles appreciate me,” he says, “that’s the most important thing.
“Anything else is irrelevant to me. Sure it’s nice to get accolades and acclaim for what you’ve done but, crikey, if I’d got a few more runs in the Champions Trophy final we might have won it.
“That’s the sort of thing I think about. Not what people are saying about me.” Perhaps it’s the South African thing that does it. He is still more associated with Cape Town than Birmingham.
As he was quick to joke himself in that video, it is often perceived the England cricket team are “riddled” with South Africans. “When you do well you’re an England batsman and when you do badly you’re a South African-born England batsman,” says Trott.
“No-one ever forgets it and people still say to me, ‘When will you go back to South Africa?’
“I have no plans to do that. My wife is English, we have a family and my parents live in Leatherhead. I don’t have any intention of going back.
“I’m not ashamed of where I come from and I’m proud of the way I came to play for England. I’m also proud of where I’m going and what I want to achieve.
“That’s more important than whether I speak with a Birmingham accent. I want to win for England just as much as everyone else in the team.
“South Africa respected my decision to leave and the way I went about it. They understand and I’m very grateful for my upbringing. It just didn’t work out for me to stay there. It always felt right coming to England. I played for the South African Under 15s and 19s but I always travelled on a British passport.
“I always knew there was a British part of me and there was a chance I would come over.
“Bob Woolmer wanted me to play for Warwickshire and qualify for England and I was keen to do it.
‘I don’t care if I look serious when I’m playing because that’s my job, that’s what I do… it is a serious business’
“Maybe I was a little comfortable in my surroundings in Cape Town and I needed to make a bold decision. I needed direction, to live on hard work as well as talent.
“I had to try to fit in and be a good example. It was a difficult decision but definitely the right one.”
It has been quite a journey. His apprenticeship at Edgbaston was followed by his inspired selection for that last home decider.
“I never knew how to go about Test cricket on my debut,” he admits now. “I never knew what it would be like.
“I walked out in front of 25,000 people and I’d never done that before. I got run out in the first innings and I came back and sat in the dressingroom still with my helmet on.
“Andy Flower popped his head round the corner and said, ‘Are you all right?’ And I just replied, ‘That’s the most fun I’ve ever had’.
“And it was. It was the most fun I’d had on a cricket field. You don’t know how you’ll handle the pressure but it’s still the biggest thrill when I walk out to bat for England.”
He will experience that feeling again at Trent Bridge as he approaches his first full home Ashes series. – Daily Mail
GETTING DOWN TO BUSINESS: Jonathan Trott batting for England in a Ashes warm-up match against Essex this week. Inset: A relaxed Trott, a side the public seldom sees.