A gifted batsman who was poised for greatness in England colours, Jonathan Trott’s career ended far too soon than it should have. Persistent mental health issues forced the South Africa-born batsman to call time when others hit their peak years.
While his career was cut short before it could flower, Trott has had his second coming in English cricket in a coaching avatar. The 39-year-old has been appointed the batting consultant for the Pakistan series.
With the majority of English batsmen in the current Test line-up not having too many matches behind them, Trott’s experience of English conditions and his years of international cricket will come in handy in ensuring that the likes of Rory Burns, Dom Sibley, Zak Crawley and Ollie Pope are shipshape going into the series.
Jonathan Trott was drafted into the English set-up in place of assistant coach Graham Thorpe, who doubled up as the batting consultant. Thorpe was thrust into a double role after former teammate Mark Ramprakash was removed as batting coach following England’s glory run in the 2019 World Cup.
Thorpe, however, will only stay assistant coach for the Old Trafford Test, the first of the series, with compatriot and former all-rounder Paul Collingwood coming in for the second and third. Trott isn’t the only new face in the English coaching set-up as he will be joined soon by former Kiwi international Jeetan Patel as the spin bowling coach, former English seamer Graeme Welch as the pace bowling consultant, Bruce French as wicket-keeping coach and Carl Hopkinson as the national lead fielding coach. Patel and Welch also played for the Bears alongside Trott.
Trott, who played domestic cricket in South Africa and New Zealand before linking his lot with Warwickshire, won his England Test cap in the Ashes series of 2009. He broke into the ODI side that same year.
He was a central figure in the English line-up when the team rose to number one in Test cricket in 2011. He scored a fine century in the final Test of his debut series, which helped him become a regular in the English middle-order. He stood out for his sound technique and temperament and was one of the top contributors to the England cause as it scripted historic wins over Australia and India, in their own backyards.
Jonathan Trott played 52 Tests for England, scoring 3,835 runs with 9 hundreds and 19 fifties at an average of 44.08 in a career spanning 6 years from 2009 to 2015. He averaged 51.25 in 68 ODIs he played. He totalled almost 19,000 runs in First Class cricket for the Bears.
Mental health problems
Jonathan Trott’s mental health problems came to the fore during the back-to-back Ashes series in 2013.
Opening up on the battle with his inner demons during a chat with The Guardian, he said he was scared of the prospect of facing another day of Test cricket against Australia in the Ashes. “I considered driving my car into the Thames or into a tree. That way I could get out of the ordeal,” he was quoted as saying.
In a way, his struggle with mental health, marked the cruel unravelling of a man, who arguably played his best cricket against the top teams back in his days.
While the disappointment of not being able to prolong his Test career will gnaw at him, the coaching role presents an opportunity for the 39-year-old to be back in the familiar and comforting confines of the England dressing room and relive the golden memories from his playing days. It would, at least, be a palliative in his lifelong battle chasing ghosts within.
One hopes his young charges in the English batting line-up will give him more reasons to smile and memories to savour, going forward.