“A whole new ball game”
Jonathan Trott previews England’s winter tour
Jonathan Trott is a cricketer who, in his prime, would have walked into any international setup in the world.
From scoring a maiden century on his international test debut against Australia in the 2009 Ashes, to cementing his position amongst the world’s top ‘number three’ batsmen, his career with England was sadly short-lived yet his achievements speak for themselves.
What England would give for a player of his ability and temperament to come in at ‘number four’ nowadays is anybody’s guess.
This past week, he has been speaking with the Asian Express Newspaper about England’s chances in India and what went wrong in that final Test against Bangladesh.
Reflecting on England’s post-lunch collapse in Dhaka last month, which saw them lose all 10 wickets for just 64 runs and ultimately tie the series, Trott said lessons need to be learned.
“I think England will obviously be disappointed,” he said. “They found themselves playing very good cricket for the majority of the day and it just goes to show, you lose one session in a Test match and it can lose you the game.
“They will be disappointed not to have finished the tour on a high, but they will also be going to India now, pleased to have got in some competitive cricket.”
Despite the defeat, Trott remains somewhat upbeat about the national side.
“I think a two test series against Bangladesh which they didn’t win can also be a good thing,” he added.
“They went to Bangladesh and sometimes teams can just spend three weeks playing warm up games and not get prepared. This time around, Bangladesh gave them a good eye opener and good preparation for India.
“Playing India will obviously pose a completely different threat. The environment you play in and the level of opposition, taking nothing away from Bangladesh, will create a much tougher test.
“If England had gone and thrashed Bangladesh they could have perhaps got a rude awakening in India and found themselves a couple of games down, whereas now, they know that they are going to be in a scrap and that’s the sort of mentality they need.”
England begin their tour of India on Wednesday 9th November with the first of five Tests kicking off in Rajkot.
The hosts haven’t lost a Test series at home since they were defeated by England back in 2013 and are currently ranked as the number one side in the world.
Trott was one of the star batsmen in the final Test three years ago, smashing an unbeaten 143 runs.
Ahead of the first ball of the 2016 series being bowled, he says he predicts a low-scoring series and is optimistic for England’s chances.
“I’d like to think England can go there and draw the series,” he said. “It will be difficult to win, especially the way India have been playing at home – I’m not sure they’ve lost many at all recently.
“They are preparing pitches for spin bowling a lot more but hopefully we can come away with a draw.”
He added: “India will undoubtedly have a lot of skill in their side, a lot of energy in the field.
“They have a lot more younger players and playing in the IPL has definitely improved their fielding a lot since I was playing especially.
“When I played 25 years ago, they had the Tendulkars, Lakman, fielding wasn’t high on the tactic sheet but these guys nowadays are good all-round cricketers.
“It’s going to be competitive and they will definitely be backing themselves.”
In Bangladesh, England once again showed their frailties when facing spin bowlers, with 19 wickets taken by the inexperienced 19-year-old, Mehedi Hasan.
With the likes of Ravi Ashwin ready to pounce on any hesitation in England’s batting order, there can be no slip up at the wicket.
“A lot of the players who travelled to Bangladesh have been on Lions trip tours where they have experienced subcontinent conditions so inexperience isn’t really an excuse,” Trott said.
“Last year they went to Abu Dhabi and Sri Lanka so they do spend a lot of time playing spin in test cricket.
“You can play as much of it as you want to in the net but actually coming up against it in an actual match is a whole new ball game. For a lot of them, it’s their first Test in a subcontinent experience and they struggled.”
Gary Ballance was one of those singled out for his poor performances in the Test matches with Bangladesh, managing just 24 runs in four spells at the wicket.
With the Yorkshire batsmen unlikely to feature in the Test series squad in India, Trott says there are still many possible replacements for the ‘number four’ spot.
“It will be interesting to see whether they want Moeen (Ali) to bat further up and then possibly bring in an all rounder or perhaps Jos Buttler could bat further down,” he said.
“They’ve got so many options because they have so many bowlers who can bat, like stokes and Rashid and Ansari, it’s really difficult.
“It looks like Ballance isn’t going to play anymore so perhaps Buttler would be a good choice for experience in India and let Jonny (Bairstow) keep the gloves.”
He added: “I think it will also be interesting to see how we line up from the start. Everyone goes on about wanting Hales to open the innings, wanting to put impetus on the top but I think Duckett gives you that.
“He has played really well and hopefully that will give him confidence to play at the top, the way he did in the last innings, even though the situation was dictated to him. I’d like to think Duckett will stay at the top.”
England will play a five Test series in India (between 9th November and 20th December), followed by three One Day Internationals (15th January to 22nd January) and three T20 games (26th January to 1st February).
Sky Sports will show all five of England’s Tests v India this winter as part of a year round schedule of international cricket.