Test stage will still be daunting step up for Trescothick

The big question of the week is: how excited should we be about Marcus Trescothick? The big answer, at the risk of being boring, is: quite. Scores of 79, 49, 29, 87 not out and 20 as an opener in his first five internationals tell the story - the classic tale, familiar to those whom spend their Saturday afternoons watching Busby Berkeley films rather than sport, of the understudy who is suddenly thrust into the leading role and becomes an overnight sensation. Trescothick has been fearless, nerveless, looking to enjoy himself, and as a result has done all the simple things well: picking the length, rocking back or forward, watching the ball, and keeping the bat vertical or horizontal, not angled or dangled.

The big question of the week is: how excited should we be about Marcus Trescothick? The big answer, at the risk of being boring, is: quite. Scores of 79, 49, 29, 87 not out and 20 as an opener in his first five internationals tell the story - the classic tale, familiar to those whom spend their Saturday afternoons watching Busby Berkeley films rather than sport, of the understudy who is suddenly thrust into the leading role and becomes an overnight sensation. Trescothick has been fearless, nerveless, looking to enjoy himself, and as a result has done all the simple things well: picking the length, rocking back or forward, watching the ball, and keeping the bat vertical or horizontal, not angled or dangled.

But - in English cricket there is always a but - this is only the one-day game, with its flattish pitches and tight restrictions on bowling and field placing. And opening is the easiest, least pressured place to bat in one-dayers. And look at the bowlers: West Indies' spear-carriers, Zimbabwe's honest trundlers. This is a tournament between the three worst one-day teams out of international cricket's big nine, and only England have been able to field their first-choice attack.

It has all been a very long way from Curtly and Courtney in the first two Tests. So let's not fall into the trap of deducing that Trescothick is better than Nick Knight or Mark Ramprakash or, to mention someone else who didn't make significant runs in the first two Tests, Alec Stewart.

Stewart has said that he expects Trescothick to be picked for the third Test in two weeks' time - but then Stewart's undoubted strengths as England captain possibly did not include selection: he is the man who didn't take Andy Caddick to Australia, the country where he could reasonably be expected to be most effective.

Duncan Fletcher has said something very similar, but the jury is out on him as a selector too: he seriously thought Chris Adams and Darren Maddy were a better bet than Ramprakash against Donald and Pollock, he went into the last Test with five specialist seamers when it was blindingly obvious that four was enough, and he thought Matthew Hoggard was more likely to take wickets against West Indies at Lord's than Angus Fraser.

To present Ambrose and Walsh with a debutant opener at Old Trafford on 3 August, would be like introducing a teenager in a low-cut dress to a couple of elderly vampires. The opening pair the two old legends won't want to see that morning is either Stewart and Mike Atherton, both playing their 100th Test and bursting to mark the occasion appropriately, or Atherton and Michael Vaughan, the combination that drove (well, stonewalled) West Indies to distraction at Lord's.

Trescothick, however, has every chance of making it in the long run, for the simple reason that he has been properly prepared. He has played one-day internationals en route to getting a Test cap, and before the one-day internationals he went on an England A tour. If this sounds like a logical progression, it is one that is denied to many England players. Ed Giddins, Chris Schofield, Alex Tudor and Mark Butcher have all played Tests without getting a one-day cap. Tudor, Ben Hollioake and Simon Brown all made the Test XI, without having been on an A tour; Tudor and Brown still haven't. Hoggard reached the Test team without a taste of either one-dayers or an A tour. England have got their pipeline in a twist.

Contrast the very mixed fortunes of that lot with the entrances made by Trescothick and two other men who have played for England in the past month: Graham Thorpe and Dominic Cork.

Thorpe made a hundred on his Test debut against Australia in 1993 - after playing three one-day internationals earlier that summer (making 31, 36 and 22), and, before that, going on four A tours. Cork exploded on the Test scene with 7 for 43 against West Indies at Lord's in 1995. He too had been on four A tours, and had appeared in the one-day team four summers running, winning eight caps, the first of them against Pakistan in 1992, in Ian Botham's last game for England.

Cork and Thorpe have been mismanaged since, Thorpe when he returned home from the West Indies in 1994 to find Ray Illingworth giving his place to Craig White, and Cork when he was first overpromoted into a new-ball bowler, then over-bowled and twice sent into the wilderness. But at least they had had a solid grounding. Since their youth, the gap between Test and county cricket has widened by about 100 per cent - which makes it all the more vital that the stars of the future are allowed to reach the big stage one step at a time.

Tim de Lisle is editor of Wisden Cricket Monthly and wisden.com.

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
News
i100
Sport
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
boxing
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments