Trott receives England backing

Published: Thursday 19th March 2015 by The News Editor

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Jonathan Trott will return to England’s Test match fold with a wealth of goodwill from all quarters – but there is still no welcome back in the offing for his former team-mate Kevin Pietersen.

Trott will join his fellow South Africa-born batsman as a 34-year-old next month, but there the comparison ends.

After being named on Wednesday in a 16-man Test squad to tour the West Indies, Trott has a much more feasible England future ahead.

Pietersen is hoping a stint with Surrey, as long as he and his advisers can conclude negotiations for a return after his deregistration last summer, will kick start renewed international ambitions.

Incoming England and Wales Cricket Board chairman Colin Graves has suggested that might be the case.

For the record-breaking but controversial batsmen, sizeable hurdles nonetheless stand in his way – not least the reduction at least of his Indian Premier League commitments.

Then there is the small matter of actually making first-class runs for the first time since he was sacked by England 13 months ago after their whitewash defeat in the 2013-14 Ashes.

For Trott, there are no such obstacles. But as he embarks on his first England assignment since leaving that same ill-fated tour of Australia with a stress-related problem after the first Test in Brisbane, he must demonstrate he can operate again at the highest level.

Test captain Alastair Cook is backing him to do so, after Trott’s return to form for Warwickshire and his successful stint as Lions captain at the start of this year.

“He had a really good tour of South Africa as captain, which would have put him under a bit more pressure,” said Cook.

“We’ve had fantastic feedback from the coaches, who asked a lot of Trotty.”

Cook must try to put behind him and England a winter which saw him lose the World Cup captaincy and then watch from afar as Eoin Morgan instead led the team to an embarrassing early exit Down Under.

Prospective Test debutants Adam Lyth, who will vie with Trott to open alongside Cook, the left-hander’s fellow Yorkshireman Adil Rashid and Durham fast bowler Mark Wood were also in the squad announced by national selector James Whitaker.

But it is Trott whose inclusion was most notable, as a possible new opening partner for the captain, and Cook added: “I’ve kept in contact with him all the way since that fateful day in Brisbane.

“It’s fantastic he’s back playing cricket for Warwickshire, and he seems healthy again.

“To have him starting to get his name back in the selection mix is fantastic… an amazing effort from where he was at Brisbane.”

Wicketkeeper Matt Prior does not know yet for sure whether he will play again after Achilles surgery last year.

As he sits out a tour on which Jos Buttler will be first choice behind the stumps, and Jonny Bairstow his deputy, Prior too made clear he wishes Trott only the best next month.

He said: “It’s fantastic news for Trotty – to overcome what he has, he is a class act.

“Having been in that dressing-room with him, I know what a class performer he is.

“He is going to add so much to the England dressing-room, so (it’s) fantastic news… for English cricket.

“It will be a challenge to go out there again and be in the limelight, but I’m sure he can handle it.”

As for Pietersen, who said early on Wednesday he will “do anything” to play for England again, Cook and Whitaker have offered scant encouragement.

Whitaker reiterated, several times in one radio interview, that Pietersen is simply “not in our plans”.

Cook cites the contents of Pietersen’s autobiography, heavily critical of team-mates including Prior and management, as another reason why a second ‘reintegration’ is improbable.

“I think it’s very unlikely,” he said.

“There’s been a hell of a lot of stuff happened, with his book and all that kind of stuff. It’s a long way back from that.”

Published: Thursday 19th March 2015 by The News Editor

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