Trescothick eager to solve mystery of overseas form

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The Independent Online

Marcus Trescothick believes England have the wherewithal to become only the second side to win a Test series in South Africa since they were readmitted into international cricket in 1991, despite his own problems in scoring runs abroad.

Marcus Trescothick believes England have the wherewithal to become only the second side to win a Test series in South Africa since they were readmitted into international cricket in 1991, despite his own problems in scoring runs abroad.

In the post-apartheid era Australia are the only team to have returned home from this continent victorious, but Michael Vaughan's side, boosted by a year of unprecedented success after winning 10 of their previous 11 Test matches, will enter the first Test in a week's time full of optimism.

"We definitely have it in us to dominate this series," said a confident Trescothick. "We have been playing so well that people are bound to be worried about us and looking at how we are playing. South Africa have a few new faces in their team and they are not as experienced as they used to be.

"What has happened in the last nine months does not just happen by luck. It happens through being a good team and working hard. Keeping people fit will be important to how we perform. We need to keep the nucleus of the team which has been successful in the last nine months together."

If England are to emulate Australia they will need their batsmen to perform in circumstances that have generally not brought out the best in them. Trescothick's problems with the bat on tour - he averages 54 at home and 33 when away - have been well documented.

But he is not alone. Vaughan, Mark Butcher, and Andrew Flintoff all average considerably more on English pitches than they do when travelling around the world. Graham Thorpe is the only England batsman who is more productive on tour and that is why he is so highly regarded on foreign fields.

"I am constantly trying to work out why I don't score as many runs abroad as I do at home," Trescothick said. "It's a funny one, and I don't honestly know why this is the case. There have been stages when I have got it right, like during the one-dayers in the West Indies earlier this year, but the Test matches have been more difficult and they have been for some time. When I work it out I will let you know."

Trescothick will not need to call a press conference to let anyone know; the scorebook will tell everyone whether or not he has cracked it.

The shortcomings of England's batsmen are more than made up for by the bowlers, each of whom has fared better on tour than at home. Many factors will influence these figures on tour.

Heat would be a major influence and a helmeted batsman, baking in the sun at the centre of a ground, would tire more quickly than a bowler who can rest for periods on the boundary.

The main reason, though, is the pitches. For years people have said that the pitches in England are bowler-friendly but the relative performances of Vaughan and his batsmen kick this theory into touch. It is true that English pitches generally offer fast bowlers more lateral movement but they are also among the truest in the world and batsmen would prefer to face a ball which moves sideways than one that moves up and down.

Wickets in England do not wear and crack as much, or have the same pace and bounce as those abroad, and this is why Vaughan's side were able to chase record fourth-innings scores at three grounds last summer.

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