A Trott Or A Gallop?

There is no doubt about it. England have been pathetic so far in their ODI series against India. Many reasons have been mooted by the media for their poor performances, from player burnout to hostile conditions, from flat pitches to Jonathan Trott.

Yes, that’s right, England’s leading batsman over the past two years has been blamed, castigated even in certain quarters, for his side’s 3-0 deficit with many suggesting he should be dropped for ‘slow scoring’. I have to confess I was one of those voices and was going to write a column presenting the case for the axe – until I looked for some stats to back up my case. And found none.

I began by looking up the career strike rates for all of the number three batsmen from the main ODI-playing nations and found that, almost without exception, they were close to Trott’s figure of 78.58. Kumar Sangakkara’s was 75.50, Ricky Ponting’s was 80.60 and Jacques Kallis and Asad Shafiq were around the same mark. Gautam Gambhir’s was the only one significantly higher at 86.70, but I think we would all agree that messrs Kallis, Sangakkara and Ponting are exalted company for Trott to be in and will go down in history as some of the greatest number threes.
Undettered, I decided that as that heralded trio had begun their careers many aeons ago and scoring rates have since increased dramatically, then the early parts of their careers must be skewing their overall strike rates. With this in mind, I set about looking up the figures for the past 12 months and found that while their strike rates had risen by a couple of points from those early days, with Sangakkara’s now 77.25 and Ponting’s now 83.33, it was only negligible and was still around Trott’s 80 mark. Again only Gambhir was way ahead with an SR of 95.01.

RARE: Trott hits a six! Credit: REUTERS/Action Images

By this point, I was puzzled, but suddenly remembered another criticism of Trott’s: namely that he didn’t increase his scoring rate throughout his innings and was very one-paced in his approach. So I devised a suitable test – what was his SR in innings where he had made 50 or more – and compared him to the rest again. Once again he came out well as, to my surprise, the strike rates didn’t really change from their overall ones – so much for the perceived wisdom of upping the rate throughout the innings!

By this time I was completely stumped, but fortunately stumbled across a possible solution. Trott hardly hits any sixes. In the past 12 months he has hit an average of 0.08 sixes per match, compared to Ponting’s 0.31 and Sangakkara’s 0.39. Perhaps because of this he had earnt for himself the perception of being a blocker, whereas Ponting and Sangakkara got away with it because they cleared the ropes. To back this up I looked at Gambhir’s ratio, who despite his epic strike rate is not really seen as one of India’s dashers, and was amazed to find it lower than Trott’s at 0.05 maximums per match – hence his perception of being more of a tortoise than a hare.

All of which means, in conclusion, that I must admit my gut instincts with regards to Mr. Trott were wrong. His strike rate is up there with the big boys and his average is even better. Just beacause he isn’t going to empty many bars – and I still won’t enjoy watching him bat – doesn’t mean he isn’t worth his place in the side.

Jonathan, please forgive me for doubting you!

What do you think? Do you agree that Trott’s slow-scoring is down to perception alone, or has the author overlooked a crucial counter argument? Please let us know in the comments below.

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