SA fans should rein it in for Trott

By Zaahier Adams

The sun is out and the smell of freshly cut grass is in the air. The Cape Cobras may have been playing for well over a month but the home summer officially starts now. On Friday actually, when they will host the Dolphins in a MTN40 clash at Newlands.

Upcountry, though, the action has been plenty, with the Champions Trophy having come and gone, and the fact that Andrew Strauss and his fellow South African expats, plus a few English cricketers, are already in town, preparing for the much-anticipated one-day and Test series against the Proteas.

There has been a lot of talk in the media upon England's arrival about the four South African-born players included in tourists' squad, which is also coached by Cape Town-born Zimbabwean Andy Flower.

In my opinion, the only true "Saffas" in that squad are Kevin Pietersen and Jonathan Trott. Strauss and Matt Prior may have both been born in Johannesburg but they are as English as you can get, especially the cucumber-sandwich eating, home of cricket Middlesex captain, Strauss.

And although KP can still speak fluent Afrikaans, the way he has denounced his country of birth publicly on countless occasions, he might as well have torn up his South African passport when he left to join Northamptonshire on the advice of Clive Rice all those years ago.

Which leaves us with Jonathan Trott. The Rondebosch old-boy, who played the majority of his early cricket career with Cobras opener Andrew Puttick and Proteas spinner Paul Harris, graduated through the Western Province and South African age-group teams up until two professional seasons with Boland and Province respectively.

Since Trott's Ashes-winning century in the final Test at the Oval, many people have asked me how could South African cricket, let alone WP, allow a player of his calibre to leave for the United Kingdom?

Well, in Trott's last season at Province, back in 2001-02, the then 20-year-old scored 415 runs at average of 32 in the 11-team SuperSport Series. Solid, but not spectacular, which could have been better had he not got a pair in his last game against the KwaZulu-Natal Dolphins.

In Trott's case it was pure economics. He understood that his path to international cricket was not going to be easy as he had earlier thought when he was undoubtedly one of the most talented schoolboys of his generation. I can vouch for this as I played against him in many school derbies.

So, acting upon the advice of his half-brother and former WP batsman Kenny Jackson - yes, the same Kenny Jackson who once said that if Allistair Gray hadn't been white, he would be playing ahead of Herschelle Gibbs and Ashwell Prince for the Proteas - Trott went on to pursue a cricket career in England.

On that basis, Trott did the correct thing as he knew he would earn a much better living as a county professional in England than as a first-class cricketer in South Africa. The fact that he got to represent England is a feather in his cap.

And while Trott has denied that he celebrated with the Proteas, according to former England captain Michael Vaughan, after South Africa won their first series in the UK post-isolation last year, the strong roots of South Africa are still firmly implanted within Trott.

So when the South African fans, undoubtedly, have a go at KP this summer, they might just want to rein it in a bit for Trott who, but for the lure of the pound, possibly still wants to be sitting in the other dressing-room with his boyhood pals.

MY CRICKETER OF THE WEEK

South Africa's summer may still be in its infancy, but the records are falling aplenty. Last week it was Stephen Cook. This week it's Morne van Wyk.

The veteran Eagles' opener smashed the highest individual score in limited-overs history in South Africa against the Lions in Bloem. His blistering 168 in the MTN40 should remind the national selectors that he is not a spent force.

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