The announcement by Jonathan Trott that he is to retire at the end of the current season has been accompanied by tributes from key people at Edgbaston as well as from Warwickshire fans.
Maybe, therefore, it is time for the wider fanbase of county cricket to carry out a re-appraisal.
In recent times, Trott has been portrayed as a man who had his day in international cricket but ultimately couldn’t stand the heat and had to get out of the kitchen – just another South African import most notable for an odd set of habits and movements at the crease and a brusque manner off the pitch.
That’s not the picture painted by those close to him.
Ashley Giles, Sport Director of Warwickshire CCC, said: “Trotty will be remembered as one the greatest batsmen to have played for Warwickshire and England in the 21st century.
“He made an immediate impact upon arrival at Edgbaston by scoring such a high volume of runs, and he has gone on to be part of one most successful periods in the club’s history, with five major trophies won across all formats.
“We will miss his immense contributions on and off the field.”
Jim Troughton, First Team Coach at Warwickshire CCC, said.
“Trotty will leave behind a legacy to the Bears and English cricket. He can be extremely proud of his achievements at domestic and international level and I will always regard him as a great teammate, player and, most importantly, a good friend.”
Warwickshire supporters, too, have expressed their feelings with comments such as:
“Sad news – been a great player and credit to the club.”
“Noooooo! My hero….”
“I can’t believe 16 seasons with Trott will have come and gone by September. I suppose all we can say is a simple ‘Thank You, Trotty’”
What is it about Trott that has inspired such admiration?
Firstly, there are aspects of Trott the cricketer that may have been too easily forgotten.
Who recalls, for example, that in his early career, he was easily Warwickshire’s most successful T20 batsman, with over 2,000 runs at an average above 36? Or that his first appearance for England was in a T20 international?
And what an England career he had. He scored over 6500 international runs in 127 appearances. There were 13 hundreds and 42 fifties. His ODI average of over 50 is very similar, for example, to that of Joe Root. In 2011, he was voted as the ICC International Cricketer of the Year.
As for Trott the man, let’s deal with his South African origins. Sure, he was born in Cape Town. Brought up there, he played for the country of his birth at both under-15 and under-19 level. But he had an English father and since he came to Birmingham in 2002, his commitment to his adopted country and city has been total and unequivocal.
The South African accent may endure but he couldn’t now be more of a Brummie if he spoke like a Peaky Blinder. He married the granddaughter of Tom Dollery, the man who captained Warwickshire when they won the Championship in 1951. And after those 16 seasons at Edgbaston, the often cynical Warwickshire supporters have no problem in echoing Ashley Giles’s comment: “He’s a Bear through and through.”
What else of Trott the man?
It is well known that, late in 2013, he returned from an England tour of Australia, in mental and emotional distress.
As it happened, this was also the time when one of county cricket’s most loyal supporters was prematurely and terminally ill with cancer.
Kim Jones was the founder and owner of Spin cricket magazine.
He loved county cricket and Warwickshire in particular. And whenever anyone wrote something critical of Trotty, you could be sure that Kim would leap to his defence, often with irrefutable statistics to back up his argument.
What few people know is that, as Kim was fighting a losing battle with his final illness, Trotty, despite being at his own lowest point, sent him a warm and caring handwritten letter of support and sympathy. Kim said that Trotty’s message, along with others that he received “in my darkest days spread sunshine upon me.”
That letter is as much a measure of the man as the runs that he scored for Warwickshire and England are the measure of the cricketer.
So, as Trotty travels the country making his final appearances this season, maybe it is time for all county cricket supporters to have a re-think about both the player and the man.
Yes, you may have been irritated by his mannerisms and by his inconvenient and occasionally stroke-free adherence to the crease. He may have been the most fidgety and quirky character in English cricket since Derek Randall last twitched for Notts and England, and no-one would suggest that he has displayed Randall’s obvious joie de vivre.
But surely, if you get the chance, it would be appropriate to pay personal tribute to the man and his achievements.
When he comes to the crease or leaves it, you can tell your fellow spectators that you are rising to your feet just to stretch your body and that you are hitting your hands together to keep them warm. But you and I – and maybe the shade of Kim Jones – will know that you are giving good old Trotty a well-deserved standing ovation.