Marcus Trescothick has always batted in a manner which suggests he is a man in a hurry – but now one of the finest batsmen of his generation is hoping to keep Father Time at bay in a bid to continue one of English cricket’s more remarkable careers.
When the former England man walks out at Taunton for Somerset’s opening First Division fixture in the County Championship against highly fancied Durham on Sunday, it will be his 23rd season as a professional cricketer.
To put that into perspective, Joe Root was just two when Trescothick first strode out to open the Somerset innings with Mark Lathwell against Lancashire in May 1993.
He scored one and three on that first-class debut but has made up for that in the intervening years. With 55 centuries and over 22,000 runs to his name, he has more than lived up to the expectation that came with his prodigious feats as a junior cricketer.
While England continue to flounder, there’s little doubt that, despite averaging almost 44 for his country in 76 Tests, he could have gone on to achieve so much more.
That he did not was down to a stress-related illness that brought a premature end to his international career. But England’s loss has certainly been Somerset’s gain.
Now, on the dawn of another Championship, his hunger for runs remains undimmed. “When your new package of bats and gloves arrives – I was knocking my bats in the other day when everyone had gone home – you think ‘OK, let’s get ready and start doing this all over again’,” he says. “That’s what it’s all about.”
Last season was another triumphant one for Trescothick, with his 1,156 first-class runs coming at an average of 42. That followed a lean 2013, when he averaged just 27 and failed to reach 1,000 runs in his 16 Championship matches.
Questions were inevitably raised about his long-term future but, as has often been the case over the past two decades, those doubts were swotted away last season as if they were a juicy half-volley.
Now the 39-year-old has another, age-related goal. “Forty was my target – that was what I wanted to get to, then I said I would reassess,” he reveals. “As long as I’m still enjoying it and good enough to match up to the team, it’s up to the club.
“You can never get away from it. For as long as I’m playing now my age will be there, that factors in when you don’t play well and you go through a lean spell. ‘He’s past it’ [observers will say].
“During the season when it didn’t go very well, you’re always thinking, how am I getting through into the next big score?
“Then I got a big score, playing at Hove [116 against Sussex in April 2014] and that made the difference in the game. It all comes flooding back after that.
“You don’t get drawn into what’s going on because you’ve played the game long enough to appreciate that there are going to be ups and downs at different times.”
Trescothick has enjoyed more peaks than troughs for both county and country, with the 2005 Ashes triumph the crowning moment.
So reassuring was the sight of the left-hander at the top of the England innings that it’s hard to believe it is almost nine years since he won his last cap – scores of six and four in the infamously abandoned final Test against Pakistan at The Oval in August 2006 was hardly the goodbye he deserved.
In November of that year, he flew home early from England’s ill-fated Ashes tour of Australia as a result of the illness that would, ultimately, prevent him from continuing as an international cricketer.
At the age of just 30, Trescothick’s England race was run. Anyone who doubted his ability to keep plundering runs in county cricket, however, has been proved resoundingly wrong.
His presence in a dressing room of players almost entirely coming from a different generation – Jamie Overton jokes that Trescothick is nearly as old as his dad – continues to prove invaluable.
“The boys coming through the Academy and then the second team, they’re a lot fitter – now it’s being introduced to them earlier, it’s ingrained in them from 14 or 15 and beyond,” says Trescothick.
“They understand that element of experience that they don’t have and that they’re trying to learn. They’re always feeding off different things and picking my brain.
“They might have all the youth and the way the body operates, of course they do; whereas I wake up after a long day in the field and can hardly move, they’re bouncing around and doing what they have to do. It’s that side [of the game] where you have to think about it a bit more, that I’m trying to give to them.”
England, too, have had plenty of food for thought in recent months, and with Australia arriving again this summer, Trescothick does not envy the current crop as they attempt to wrestle the Ashes from Aussie hands.
“Right now, it’s obviously going to be quite tricky, isn’t it,” he says. “We need to improve on what we’ve done. Australia are obviously high on confidence.”
That Ashes mission is not something that Trescothick has to concern himself with. Somerset, meanwhile, will hope his Indian summer continues for a few more seasons yet.Reuse content