Despite initial fears that he was out for the rest of the season, Marcus Trescothick, England's key batsman and the man of the series in the NatWest tournament, is still hopeful of being fit for the final Test against India at The Oval on 5 September.
This gives him nearly seven weeks to recover from the broken thumb he suffered during Wednesday's Cheltenham and Gloucester Cup quarter-final against Worcestershire.
"The plaster is on for about three weeks, I think," he said yesterday, "and you never know with breaks how long they will take to mend. Definitely, though, I am aiming to try and be fit for the final Test. Maybe we will be able to protect it a bit in the field and it will be all right for batting."
He has been notably sanguine about his misfortune, accepting it as "one of those things that could have happened in the nets or at home", and has concentrated on the positive aspects of his enforced rest from the game.
With Graham Thorpe citing family responsibilities for his retirement from one-day international cricket and Nasser Hussain publicly expressing his fears over player burn-out, Trescothick views his lay-off as a chance to return "fit and fresh for the ICC Trophy, the Ashes in Australia and the World Cup".
His county team-mates at Somerset will definitely be without him for the C&G semi-final against Kent on 1 August, although Richard Johnson, who toured India with England in the winter, is expected to return and there is still a chance that Andy Caddick will recover from a rib strain in time.
With grumblings emanating from many county memberships about the non-availability of centrally contracted players, Somerset at least, can rest assured that Trescothick, the club captain, is passionate about the county. Shortly after he broke his thumb, a few throw-downs in the nets with just his top hand on the bat and his damaged hand swamped in protection convinced him to bat if needed during the closing overs of Wednesday's quarter-final.
Keith Parsons, the Somerset hero of the day, said: "Kev-in Shine [the coach] threw some at him in the indoor school and he kept smacking it, so Shiney started throwing them harder, just trying to get one past him. He was ready to bat at 11, because if he was needed it would only be for a couple of runs for victory."
Tests of time: England v India at Lord's
England 433 and 67-3 India 128 and 369 England won by 7 wkts
Two of the world's great all-rounders illuminated the match. Both Ian Botham and Kapil Dev took five wickets in an innings and scored a half-century in their blistering styles. Kapil (5 for 125) made early inroads into England's first innings before Botham smashed a ferocious 67 and then Derek Randall, returning after more than two years, made 126, his first Test century at home. Botham, with 5 for 46, destroyed India's first innings, forcing them to follow on. Dilip Vengsarkar's composed 157 offered the initial resistance before Kapil made 89 from 59 balls and then once again severely embarrassed England by taking three wickets in eight balls.
England 294 and 180 India 341 and 136-5 India won by 5 wkts
India won their first Test match at headquarters to put them on the way to a groundbreaking series victory in England. It was a comprehensive triumph by a side who were much greater than the sum of their parts, and it was England's sixth successive defeat. Graham Gooch scored his sixth Test hundred, Dilip Vengsarkar became the first overseas player to score three hundreds at Lord's. Kapil Dev, once more, with three early wickets, and the left-arm spinner Maninder Singh, who took 3 for 9 in 20.4 overs, undermined England's second innings. On the final day, Kapil finished the match with 18 off an over from Phil Edmonds, winning it with a six.
England 652-4d and 272-4d India 454 and 224 England won by 247 runs
This was Gooch's match. But it was also so much more. By scoring 333 and 123, Graham Gooch, the England captain, recorded the highest aggregate in a Test and made the highest score at the ground. A straightforward chance behind in his first innings went begging and cost 297 runs. India replied with gusto, Ravi Shastri and Mohammad Azharuddin scoring contrasting hundreds and Kapil Dev saving the follow-on with four successive sixes. England blazed away again in their second innings, marked by a first-wicket stand of 204 and a spectacular catch by an unknown called Sachin Tendulkar. India went for victory but perished on the altar of attack.
England 344 and 278-9d India 429 Match drawn
A moral victory for India might actually have been something more. England, put in, were rescued by an obdurate Jack Russell, who batted more than six hours for 124. The tourists established an important lead thanks to their two debutants: Sourav Ganguly became only the third man to make a century at Lord's on his debut and Rahul Dravid almost followed him with 95. England made hard work of saving the match, in which their recalled opening batsman made a staunch 66. There had been strong feelings expressed that Alec Stewart should have been overlooked in favour of a younger man. It was the last of umpire Dickie Bird's 66 Test matches.
By Stephen Brenkley
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