Trott not fazed by size of MCG task
Jonathan Trott is confident England will cope with playing in front of a 90,000-plus crowd in the Boxing Day Test at the MCG.
The tourists’ number three batsman has a proven record of delivering on the big occasion, having scored an Ashes-winning hundred on his Test debut last year.
That was before a capacity crowd of around 23,500 at the Oval, perhaps only a quarter of a possible world-record audience in two days’ time.
The stakes could hardly be higher either, with the series delicately poised at 1-1 and two games to play.
Trott thinks he knows what to expect, and is sure England can handle it too.
“It will be especially noisy, and a great spectacle to be a part of,” he predicted.
“But once you get out in the middle and while you’re batting, you don’t really notice it much.
“I don’t think it will be anything that will be unexpected, or that the guys won’t be ready for.”
Trott is relishing the chance to play in front of such a vast audience.
“We’re very excited,” he revealed. “It’s a huge opportunity, and I’m sure millions of people around the world would love the chance to play in front of such a crowd.
“I feel pretty privileged, but also realise the task in hand and the stakes of playing in an Ashes Boxing Day Test.
“I’m really looking forward to it, and I know the rest of the guys are as well.”
An England victory in Melbourne will mean they retain the Ashes with a game to spare in a fluctuating series that saw them win by an innings at Adelaide but lose heavily in Perth.
“It’s been a good lesson in Test cricket,” Trott observed. “Going 1-0 up and being really, really keen to perform, things didn’t go our way (in Perth).
“It was a good example of how Test cricket can turn around pretty quickly.”
England expect James Anderson to lead their attack, despite the paceman suffering from a sore side at Perth. He took a full part in training today though.
“As far as I know he’s looking really good,” Trott said. “I don’t know why he wouldn’t play.”
Australia captain Ricky Ponting has also been testing an injury, with a bat in his hand for the first time since he broke his left little finger in the third Test.
“As a batsman, any sort of discomfort whatever is not handy,” Trott added. “But we all expect Ricky to play, because we know what a tough character he is.”
There was also a vote of confidence from Trott for fellow middle-order batsman Paul Collingwood.
Between them, and number four Kevin Pietersen, they could muster only nine first-innings runs in the last Test. All perished to Mitchell Johnson’s lethal inswing.
For Collingwood, that failure was the penultimate installment in a succession of nine Test innings without a half-century, but Trott has faith.
“Paul’s obviously been around a long time, with plenty of Ashes experience,” he said.
“We’ve all seen the way he’s performed over the last couple of years - really, really well, and had a great tour of South Africa.
“As cricket players, no one has a divine right to score runs all the time. I talk from my own experience on that - things just sometimes don’t go your way.
“But things can turn around really quickly, and you can be a real champion from here on in.”
There have been calls for Collingwood to drop down the order a place to number six, allowing the in-form Ian Bell to be promoted.
But Trott insisted: “Everyone in the team is really happy that Paul is batting at five - and we all believe 100% in him. It could be Boxing Day when we see him at his best.”
Graeme Swann was another Englishman who was not seen at his best in Perth. He followed seven wickets in Adelaide with just two at the WACA.
Trott knows, though, that given more favourable conditions, off-spinner Swann is a match-winner.
“Over the last two years, Graeme has been a revelation for us,” he said.
“When he has the ball in his hands, pretty much all the time something is going to happen - he’ll create chances for us. We’re really fortunate to have him in our team.”
Today’s training session was England’s first collective action in five days and Trott stressed the benefits of resting between Tests.
"It's a long tour, and it's important to be fresh,” he said. "It's not as if the guys haven't been in the gym, working really hard and keeping their fitness levels up."
The England team's wives, girlfriends and close family joined them before the third Test and will remain for Christmas and the New Year.
Trott, who will be spending Christmas with his daughter Lily, born just two months ago, believes short periods of time spent away from cricket can make you a better player when you get back in the middle.
"Sometimes to take a step back from the game and look from the outside in is good for a few days," he added.
"Otherwise you can find yourself on a treadmill - constantly going to nets, and hitting balls for the sake of hitting balls.
"You've got to find the right balance between working hard and switching off. I think we have it pretty spot-on."