Trescothick goes back to basics to hit rich form

After the pace of Pakistan's bowlers, England's batsmen face a different set of challenges from Zimbabwe in the NatWest Series
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The Independent Online

After successfully relying on his reactions for a week against two of the fastest bowlers in the world, Marcus Trescothick will have to watch himself today in England's first NatWest Series match of the summer.

In comparison to the 95mph sizzlers fired down by Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammed Sami, Zimbabwe's Douglas Hondo and Sean Ervine are "pop guns". The danger to Trescothick, who confirmed his return to form with a whirlwind innings of 86 at the Oval and an unbeaten hundred at Lord's, is that he may have played two shots by the time the ball arrives at his end.

It is safe to say that Heath Streak and the remainder of Zimbabwe's bowling attack are unlikely to cause Michael Vaughan and his team anywhere near the problems Pakistan did during the recent NatWest Challenge, but they still need to be treated with respect. Following his efforts against Pakistan in the last week, Trescothick, will be Zimbabwe's main target. The tourists will feel that if they can dismiss him cheaply they have a decent chance.

This is true but one only has to look at Trescothick's one-day record in England to see how much he enjoys these matches. Since his one-day debut against Zimbabwe in 2000 he has scored 1,111 runs at an average of 52.90 - 467 runs more than Alec Stewart. During the 23 games he has played he has also scored three centuries.

"It was by far the quickest bowling I have faced," said Trescothick talking about the matches against Pakistan. "There was good pace at both ends. At The Oval I thrived on the pace. I was pumped up. I wanted more and more pace on the ball. I have played as well as I did at The Oval for innings of 20 or 30 but not for such a long period of time. It would be right up there in terms of nailing it for a long period.

"I will not be taking Zimbabwe and South Africa [the third team in this triangular series] any lighter than I would anybody else," he added. "I will treat them with respect and hopefully score a similar amount of runs."

The sight of Trescothick once again batting with such freedom will be a source of great reassurance to England's inexperienced squad. Standing tall and relaxed at the crease, he looks a totally different player to the tortured soul we witnessed crouching over his bat in Australia and at the World Cup. After a winter tinkering with his technique under the guidance of Duncan Fletcher, the England coach, Trescothick's return to form has been brought on by returning to the style which brought him success initially.

"I decided to change things during Somerset's match against Gloucestershire at the start of the season," he said. "I knew I wasn't hitting it right so I went and had a look at the computer. Here I could see all my lines and all my mechanics were out of place. I then went back to the nets and decided I would go back to the way I used to bat. It came back within about five minutes."

As a breed batsman are never happy. Even in form they are constantly fiddling with the handles of their bats, asking about the position of their head and altering the movement of their feet. A lot of this is caused by the insecure nature of the job as well as their desire to cover every option. However things are highlighted during a bad spell and this is just what happened to Trescothick during the winter when his confidence was shot to pieces by Glenn McGrath and Jason Gillespie.

Explaining why he went from an upright stance to a crouched one he said: "I changed it in an effort to eliminate certain things. When you go through bad periods it is because either something goes wrong or your confidence goes. I am always trying to improve my technique, even now, but maybe it will not be such a drastic thing next time.

"I used to stand upright before having a trigger movement that took me lower. I thought why have the trigger movement when I could stand in this position in the first place? But I did not realise that it was this movement which got me going."

Playing one-day cricket will also have helped because batsmen can play in this form of the game without worrying about their technique and the fact it could be ripped apart by the media should they fail. Here batters have to be positive and it often allows them to hit their way out of trouble.

"My role within the side is to be positive but these one-day games have allowed me to be a bit freer than I could be in Test cricket," Trescothick said. "It helps every now and again to be able to hit the ball how you want to hit it."

With Richard Johnson returning to the squad England could use this match as a chance to rest someone like James Anderson or Rikki Clarke. Despite his failures Jim Troughton can expect another chance batting at four.

Zimbabwe, desperate to impress following their drubbing in the Test series against England, will make at least two changes to the side which lost by an innings in Durham. Stuart Carlisle and Mark Vermeulen have returned home because of injury and for disciplinary reasons, respectively.


Today: England v Zimbabwe (Trent Bridge)
28 June: England v South Africa (The Oval)
29 June: South Africa v Zimbabwe (Canterbury)
1 July: England v Zimbabwe (Headingley)
3 July: England v South Africa (Old Trafford, d/n)
5 July: South Africa v Zimbabwe (Cardiff)
6 July: England v Zimbabwe (Bristol)
8 July: England v South Africa (Edgbaston, d/n)
10 July: South Africa v Zimbabwe (Southampton)
12 July: Final (Lord's)


ENGLAND (from): M P Vaughan (Yorkshire, capt), M E Trescothick (Somerset), V S Solanki (Worcestershire), J O Troughton (Warwickshire), A Flintoff (Lancashire), A McGrath (Yorkshire), C M W Read (Nottinghamshire, wkt), R Clarke (Surrey), A F Giles (Warwickshire), D Gough (Yorkshire), R L Johnson (Somerset), J M Anderson (Lancashire), Kabir Ali (Worcestershire), R W T Key (Kent), S J Harmison (Durham).

ZIMBABWE (from): H H Streak (capt), D A Marillier, D D Ebrahim, T J Friend, G W Flower, T Taibu (wkt), S M Ervine, R W Sims, A M Blignaut, G B Brent, R W Price, S Matsikenyeri, D T Hondo.

Umpires: S J A Taufel (Aus) and P Willey (Eng).