Tuesday, 16 Jul, 2024
Tuesday, 16 Jul, 2024
The Daily Post

Jonathan Trott, Afghanistan coach ready for friends reunited

Sports Desk

Jonathan Trott, Afghanistan coach ready for friends reunited

Afghanistan coach Jonathan Trott will try to plot the downfall of England when his current side meets his former team in a World Cup match in New Delhi on Sunday.

And yet it was only because of the illness of another fellow former England batsman in Graham Thorpe that he found himself in charge of Afghanistan at all, taking over in July last year for a Twenty20 tour of Ireland ahead of the T20 World Cup in Australia.

The 42-year-old Trott, who played over 200 international matches, worked as a batting coach for the England team on their tour of India in 2021.

For all their undoubted talent in the T20 format, where spinner Rashid Khan is a globe-trotting star of the franchise circuit, Afghanistan have struggled in the 50-over game.

Convincing defeats by Bangladesh and India in their opening two games of this World Cup mean Afghanistan have now lost 14 successive matches in the tournament -- a run stretching back to their lone win, against Scotland, in 2015.

A lack of runs, for all Hashmatullah Shahidi and Azmatullah Omarzai scored fifties in an eight-wicket reverse against India last time out, has been at the heart of Afghanistan's ODI struggles.

In Trott they have a coach who as a batsman was renowned for his concentration and an attention to detail exemplified by his deliberate marking of guard.

Born in Cape Town to a British father and South African mother, Trott played for South Africa youth sides from Under-15 to Under-19 level.

But he then took advantage of his British passport and his relationship with Bob Woolmer, who coached both South Africa and Warwickshire, to arrange a trial with the English county.

Having established himself at the Midlands club, Trott enjoyed a spectacular entry into Test cricket with a hundred on debut in a 2009 Ashes-deciding win against Australia at The Oval.

It was the start of a fine England career that yielded nearly 4,000 runs, including nine hundreds, in 52 Tests at an average of 44.08.

- 'Get pigeon-holed' -

Yet having been dubbed a "rock" by Andy Flower, the then England coach, Trott was forced to make an abrupt exit from the 2013/14 Ashes tour of Australia with a stress-related illness having struggled against the short ball.

Trott eventually battled back to regain his England place for a 2015 series in the West Indies.

But asked to open the batting, he reached double-figures only once in six innings and suffered three ducks, with Trott announcing his international retirement at the end of the tour before bowing out with Warwickshire in 2018.

His own, highly-publicised, difficulties made some wonder how Trott would cope with the increased demands of being in charge of a national side.

But Trott, still to set foot in Afghanistan more than 14 months since his appointment -- the team don't play matches on home soil on security grounds, with the country having reverted to Taliban control in 2021 -- told the Guardian last week: "I enjoy the pressure of making decisions.

"I think sometimes if you're just a specialist coach, a batting coach or a bowling coach, you sort of get pigeon-holed a little bit. I think it's nice to oversee things."

That position, however, comes with added responsibility, as Trott discovered during a heart-breaking finish to Afghanistan's Asia Cup campaign last month.

Needing to overhaul a target of 292 in 37.1 overs to oust Sri Lanka on net run-rate, Afghanistan fell agonisingly short as Mujeeb Ur Rahman holed out with three needed from the first ball of the 38th over.

They could still have qualified by reaching 295 within 37.4 overs but appeared unaware of that possibility as last man Fazalhaq Farooqi blocked two deliveries before being dismissed attempting another defensive shot with six needed to go through.

"I'm gutted about it," recalled Trott. "As a head coach the responsibility stays with you.

"You're in charge, you're the guy where the buck stops. So that's hard to take."