Monday 24 October 2011 

Opinion - Do England Need A Trott Or A Gallop?

The debate over Jonathan Trott's position in the England side continues to rage, and all the more so with India now surging into a 4-0 lead in the ODI series. Below are the views of the Cricket World editorial team. Feel free to let us know your views by leaving us a comment.

The stats don't lie...or do they?

1965 Test runs at an average of 57.79 and strike-rate of 48.51
1793 ODI runs at 52.73 and 78.64
138 T20I runs at 23.00 and 95.83

The case for the defence: DANIEL GRUMMITT

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 was around the same mark. Gautam Gambhir’s was the only one significantly higher at 86.70.

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.    
 
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.

VERDICT: 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.

You can read Daniel's full analysis at the Cricket World Blog.

Another case for the defence: JOHN PENNINGTON

Jonathan Trott is being unfairly criticised for all of England's failings. Daniel's number-crunching above shows that his scoring rate is perfectly acceptable in today's game.

I also see it as perfectly acceptable to have one player who isn't trying to thrash every ball out of the park whose job is to keep the scoreboard ticking over and get the more aggressive players back on strike. The problem is that the other batsmen aren't doing their job i.e. converting slow starts and pretty 30s and 40s into telling scores. That isn't Trott's fault.

We'd also do well to remember that Trott is a mighty fine Twenty20 player and you don't hear Warwickshire fans claiming their lack of Twenty20 success is down to him.

England's bowling, aside from Steven Finn in the last few games and Tim Bresnan in the first few, has been well below standard, as has their fielding. Truth be told, their fielding has at times been awful and they will be as disappointed as any of their fans given the high standards they expect of themselves.

A young bowling line-up was always going to struggle and they have found it predictably difficult - and will continue to do so - and England are also without Eoin Morgan, meaning it is also a relatively inexperienced middle order.

A quick glance at a scorecard (and that is sometimes all the majority of fans in England can get) without considering any of the above or watching the games in question means Trott is an easy target, and sad to say, too much is being made of his roots. Although he was born and brought up in South Africa, he is as committed to the England cause as anyone and to suggest that his scoring-rate is related to anything other than what happens out on the pitch is nonsense.

VERDICT: He is far too valuable a player to be without. I can't see any other credible alternatives for the number three position - if there was, they would be on this tour and most probably in the team. England's ODI game is still a work in progress and they do not have the sort of riches of talent that the likes of India and Australia can call upon.

The case against...

Over to you - has Trott been holding England back? Is there an alternative? Will Trott still be found wanting when Broad, Anderson and Morgan return to face Pakistan and Sri Lanka? You can leave a comment below, tweet us @Cricket_World or leave us a message on our Facebook page. We'll publish comments here.

YOUR VIEWS

From @tweatirs on Twitter: "Trott or Cook, but not both..."

© Cricket World 2011

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