Friday, February 11, 2011

The Mystery of Albert Trott

This is the story of man forgotten glazed over in history. A cricketer whose life is only remembered for one of many feats he accomplished in his time at the crease. Albert Edwin Trott born in the beer brewing suburb of Abbotsford, Melbourne Victoria. Brother of Harry Trott.

Albert Trott is an enigma in cricket, for which there are many from this age and time, his long standing record of being the only man to hit the ball over the Pavilion at Lords seemingly his lasting memory on the history of cricket, which is some what not befitting of man who has left a bigger mark on a game he rarely played for his country.He burst onto the Test scene against England in Adelaide, Australia in 1894-95 with an amazing debut which included taking 8 for 43 with his slinging, round-arm bowling and scoring 38* and 72* with the bat. He followed this up in the next match in Sydney, Australia by scoring 85 again not out, though he was strangely not asked to bowl by captain George Giffen.His brother Harry having been named captain of Australia which was to tour in England in 1896. Harry was best known as being a good judge of a man, and whose captaincy was based assertiveness.

At this time Albert was averaging 102.5 with the bat, yet this could not find him room onboard with the Australian team. Rumours of a family falling out, and Albert’s hard drinking is seen as his reason for non-selection. This is further backed up by the lack of correspondents during his time away in England, and even on his return to Australia they were rarely seen together.

Despite his omission from the team, Trott sailed to England independently and, with the help of the Australian cricketer and Test umpire Jim Phillips, played for Middlesex. Middlesex were soon to be grateful. In 1899, the year he hit M. A. Noble over the Lord's pavilion, he passed 1000 runs and took 239 wickets. In 1900 he did much the same, and was acknowledged as just about the finest allround cricketer on earth.A true student of the game, Trott's bowling relied less on pace than it did on guile and spin; he rarely bowled two balls alike. Trott was a dynamo in the field, with the ball seldom escaping his commodious clutch.

One of few players to have played for both Australia & England at Test level where again he left a mark of excellence rarely seen on the tour of South Africa in 1898-99, when he left his mark with 17 wickets at less than twelve apiece in the two Test matches.

However, from 1901 or 1902, Trott declined abruptly because, owing to a rapid increase in his weight and loss of mobility, he could not bowl the very fast ball that was so deadly in his early years. His haul of wickets fell rapidly: from 176 in 1901 to 133 in 1902 and 105 in 1903. By 1905, he was extremely expensive and ineffective (taking only 62 wickets), and only in the very dry summer of 1906 did his batting reach the levels of his early years with Middlesex.

An entertainer at heart was Trott despite his once in a life hit on Noble he was known for his unlikely large hauls of wickets, and sharing Ales with spectators on the boundary. In his benefit match in 1907 he took four wickets in four balls and then the hat-trick, winding up proceedings foolishly early at a time when people were prepared to roll up in their thousands to pay cash tribute to a stalwart of county cricket - as long as the match lasted. A feat of two hat-tricks in an innings has been repeated only once in first-class cricket, by Joginder Rao.

This larger than life character was to live a silent earning once removed from the halls of Lords. Becoming an umpire from 1910-1914. Living alone in a life that was long forgotten, as his brother was celebrated and named marked grandstands and playing grounds in Melbourne. 1914 Albert Trott wrote his will on the back of a laundry ticket he left £4 for his landlady and shot himself in the head. In today's cricket of high money, high performance and high scandal, few players have been able to provide the high thrills and high entertainment which A.E. Trott did, some 100 years ago.

*** He was buried at Willesdon New Cemetery in plot 613P at the expense of Middlesex CCC. A headstone was erected in 1994.