Ashes Tests: 24
Off the Mark
Harry Trott became the first Australian captain not to come from the golden age of the 1870’s and early 1880’s. After years of turmoil in Australian cricket, Trott and his men of the late 1890’s are credited for rescuing the country both on and off the field.
Trott was always a talented player, but it was his leadership that garnered the most attention. His 24 Test career wasn’t overly flattering, with the all-rounder scoring 921 runs at 21.92, and taking 29 wickets at 35.13. And while he had his ups and downs, his leadership could never be questioned. Testament to his ability, many experts at home and abroad labelled him the finest captain Australia had produced since Billy Murdoch.
In his first Test as captain, Trott produced his finest innings; one that would help announce him as the new face of Australian cricket. Trailing by 239 after the first innings, Trott strode to the crease at 2/3 with Australia in crisis. Yet Trott, with young gun Syd Gregory, took it to their more fancied rivals, adding 221 in just over three hours. Although England went on to win by six wickets, the act of defiance signalled Australia’s intention to bring it to the English.
The momentum sparked by Trott and Gregory carried over to the second Test, which Australia won comfortably. And although they lost the series 2-1, it was the most competitive touring party Australia had produced for over a decade.
Harry Trott won back the Ashes in 1897/98 on home soil in a dominant 4-1 display. Despite losing the first Test, the home side rarely looked troubled thanks to Trott’s at times unorthodox captaincy. Rather than rely on the tried and tested tactics of years gone by, Trott was willing to devise individual plans to certain batsmen.
Even in England, Trott had shown a knack for executing plans. He surprised the English by opening the bowling with his loopy leg-spin which saw both openers stumped inside two overs. Rather than keep himself on, Trott decided that the plan had worked and normal programming should resume.
Unlike his predecessors, Trott combined diplomacy and fairness with a hard-edged approach to leadership. This was well received by his teammates and opposition, and earned him universal respect. His game awareness and tactical nous was something not before seen from an Australian captain, and was a huge reason behind the 4-1 triumph at home. Many will say it was Trott’s willingness to trust untried players like Monty Noble and Clem Hill that led to their success. Either way, it worked.
Trott was a fine cricketer whose last few matches were crippled by blindness in his right eye. Nobody at the time will have forgotten his 143 at Lord’s that sparked Australia into life.
Played and Missed
Trott sold cigarette ash from the 1896 tour, claiming that it had come from a cigar personally given to him by the Prince of Wales.
Trott’s 143 at Lord’s was the last century scored by an Australian captain in England until 1930.
Liver complications (probably due to four tours to England) saw Trott lose sight in his right eye.
Trott once employed a 2-7 field to combat the stroke play of Kumar Ranjitsinhji. The on-side dominant Englishman struggled to adjust to the unorthodox tactics.
Current English cricketer Jonathan Trott, claims to be a distant relation to Harry Trott.