England's best batsman played a crucial innings late last week, but not at Lord's. While Kevin Pietersen was making hay against India, his predecessor as the national side's most imposing bat was proving down at Taunton that there's life after Test cricket. Marcus Trescothick will never play for his country again, barring a remarkable series of events, but in terms of talent he is still of international class. There is no one in county cricket, certainly, who you would confidently back to outplay him.
And, on days like last Wednesday, no one in the England team either. Trescothick bludgeoned 163 as Somerset beat Durham, thus throwing the County Championship wide open. Now Lancashire can dream of a first title since 1950 (and a first outright title since 1934; how they would love to see the back of that particular statistic) and Warwickshire of a pennant that would confirm them as England's premier county – in Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott, they provide the backbone of the national side's batting – in a way they haven't been since the mid-90s.
For Somerset, the title may be just out of reach but that shouldn't detract from Trescothick's efforts. His county are fourth, some 45 points behind leaders Durham with six games to go, but the 35-year-old from Keynsham is still top of the table when it comes to runs. With more than 1400, he's by some distance the top flight's biggest scorer this season, and at a better average (nudging 80) than his rivals too. He has also scored heavily in the shorter forms of the game.
Trescothick's early exit from the international scene may have helped him to keep producing in the county game, although you couldn't say that he underperformed in big cricket. It is perhaps his own unconventional style that has proved most important as the years have rolled by: in the absence of too much footwork, he relies on an extremely good eye and the quality of the pitches down at Taunton. The ball hits the middle of his bat more often than not.
If he's thriving as a batsman, Trescothick is not doing too badly as captain, either. After last season's second-place finishes in all three competitions, Somerset remain in the hunt for the Twenty20 prize and they're unbeaten in the 40-over competition. Indeed, they're the bookmakers' favourites for that particular title after last year's agonising defeat to Warwickshire under the Lord's floodlights. The recent return of Alfonso Thomas's pace and swing will help on all fronts.
There are very few clouds on the horizon, then, for this likeable West Country giant. The only worry, indeed, might be the fact that Somerset recently caught the attention of the increasingly disciplinarian ECB; Trescothick was given a suspended two-match suspension as a result of his team's repeated indiscipline. They're far from alone though, in having their wrists slapped. Both Sussex and Essex have suffered player suspensions this season.
And though he'd rather like to avoid any suspension, Trescothick does not want to blunt the combative nature of his team. They are currently in action at Worcestershire, who racked up 488 in their first dig, although Trescothick was back at the crease yesterday with a typical bludgeoning century. Thoughts of that first title have not quite dissipated.
But even if Somerset do find the pennant out of reach, it would be no surprise to see Trescothick continue for years to come. If he could finally bring the title home, this year or in seasons to come, then there could surely be no more popular champion.Reuse content