This venue may once have hosted the infamous ‘Timeless Test’ but nowadays Durban is a place where there’s too little time for a Test and Jonathan Trott’s scratching about is not helping matters, at least South Africa think so.
Graeme Smith’s demeanour as Trott took guard on Sunday spoke volumes. The South African captain folded his arms ever more tightly round his chest, his teeth clenched ever tighter. Even the normally serene Jacques Kallis waved his arms in amazement at the length of time it took Trott to prepare himself when he got down to the other end.
“It is pretty frustrating,” AB de Villiers admitted later. “It’s something Smithy’s dealing with and the umpires are aware of it. All our bowlers have little things to get them into their run-ups and it’s frustrating to them.”
Trott’s preparation at the crease involves asking for his guard, and then scratching it out about 40cm in front of him, taking a look around at the field, adjusting his pads – both on top and below, then checking the straps – another look around the field, a check that his helmet is on properly, a look around for his mum in the crowd? Okay well maybe not that last bit, but you get the idea. It is long and the South Africans have expressed their frustration to the umpires.
“It’s a tactic that might get him into trouble soon,” De Villiers added. “It’s not nice for the bowlers because it disturbs their rhythm. Dale’s (Steyn) been talking to the umpires and Graeme’s talking to Trotty as well. I think it’s a tactic.”
Smith’s conversations are presumably not of the friendly variety, De Villiers saying it’s been happening on the field. Graeme Swann’s only too glad others are getting annoyed with Trott’s pec-uliar – and lengthy – preparations before he bats. “He’s been doing it to me on the county circuit for years,” said Swann. “It’s just Trotty and the way he goes about things. He’s very organised and has a clear game plan. I can understand South Africa’s frustration because I’ve been dealing with it for years, so it’s quite nice to see it happen to someone else for a change.”
South Africa’s mood on Sunday wasn’t helped by their own poor performance with the ball particularly in the 14 overs they had at the England openers before tea. Both Andrew Strauss and Alistair Cook were given an easy ride – on the back foot mostly – as South Africa’s quicks dropped the ball far too short. Strauss raced to a run-a-ball fifty, half of which Swann missed because he was in the shower.
“Mickey (coach Mickey Arthur) did come pretty hard, especially about the basics, saying we were not executing those very well. We were definitely too short so we’ve got to try and get the lengths a bit fuller. I won’t go into detail but there were a few harsh words said in the break,” De Villiers confirmed. The ringing in their ears clearly did the trick for after the interval South Africa’s lengths were much fuller and the change paid dividends with Strauss’s dismissal.
Source: IOL.co.za – December 28, 2009 / STUART HESS