In the lead up to the 2016 domestic season, ecb.co.uk is running a series of features with all 18 first-class counties. Warwickshire’s Jonathan Trott is looking forward to playing under new skipper Ian Bell.
Bell was appointed in January to succeed Varun Chopra on a full-time basis, having filled in occasionally in the past, in recognition of the possibility that he may not be away with England as often this summer.
That is far from the way Bell sees things panning out, of course, and Trott believes the Bears will benefit from the determination both of their captain and of Chris Woakes to make an early-season impact – starting in an intriguing Specsavers County Championship opener against Hampshire at the Ageas Bowl on Sunday week.
“Obviously those two guys have got their international ambitions and hopefully they can start the season well,” said Trott, who was aiming to revive his England career himself this time last year, before confirming his international retirement at the end of the West Indies tour.
“I think it’s fortunate that the international season starts quite late so they’ve got quite a bit of county cricket to have some good performances and push their names in selection meetings.
“It’s really great to have them here also with some crucial games early on – starting at Hampshire and then Middlesex and Yorkshire, who were the top two last year. So we’re going to have some competitive cricket all round I think.”
Trott has some high-level captaincy experience of his own, having led England Lions in his native South Africa the winter before last – when his marathon double century in stifling heat in Paarl earned him that Test recall in the Caribbean.
But at the age of 34, and 13 years since his Warwickshire debut, he is happy to be a senior pro in support of Bell, with whom he has shared so much for country as well as club.
“That’s my job, to support Ian and Dougie Brown and all the youngsters,” added Trott. “Just being a good all-round professional for the club is what I look to do and I’m really looking forward to the season to be able to do that. Of course I‘d love to captain but I think we’ve got the right captain in Ian.
“He captained us to the one-day trophy at Lord’s against Somerset in 2010 and did very well in the absence of Jim Troughton. It’s always been the stepping stone for Ian to take the mantle of this club. Growing up and coming through the ranks here, I know he thinks it’s a fantastic honour and a privilege. And he’s doing a fantastic job already, in the couple of months he’s been in the job.
— Ian Bell (@Ian_Bell) March 23, 2016
“Varun Chopra did a good job himself and Belly and Dougie have put together a very good side to challenge for trophies, and that’s certainly our goal this season.”
It is a cricketing peculiarity that despite enjoying so much success in international cricket at number three, with Bell lower down the order, Trott has generally batted at four for the Bears. That is the way he expects things to stay this spring.
“That’s how it’s lined up in the warm-ups, Belly three,” he confirmed. “The funny thing is that’s how we’ve batted for Warwickshire all the time. When we used to come back from England, he’d be three and I’d be four – then we’d go back to England and I’d be three and he’d be five or wherever he was for that series.”
But with Warwickshire widely tipped as the likeliest county to dethrone Yorkshire in the Championship this summer – even Andrew Gale, the White Rose captain, picked them out as serious contenders this week – Trott would be raring to go, wherever he bats.
“It’s a bit new for me, I haven’t had a proper pre-season for quite a few years now,” he reflected. “I was in the Caribbean last year and the year before that I was coming back into cricket. So this is the first one I’ve been able to throw myself fully into, I’ve gone on pre-season with the boys and really enjoyed it. I’m enjoying my cricket and there’s an exciting summer ahead.”