Trescothick regains his touch
Somerset 175 for 3 (M.E. Trescothick 89*) v Sussex
By this stage of an English summer, Marcus Trescothick customarily has scored around 1500 runs at a rather superior average than any other batsman in the country and hence there is highly optimistic talk of a call-up for the final international match. It is axiomatic that he remains the best opener in the County Championship. For no fault of his own, the scenario has been altogether different this year.
If Trescothick was going to be severely injured, as he was at Trent Bridge in May, it was best that this should happen this sodden summer. He was out of action for three months. In seven championship innings, which has been all he has managed owing to his ankle problem, he had not made a half century. He had not looked especially out of touch, but his had been a long lay-off and there was an instantaneous requirement to pick up his game, however late in the season and however bowler-friendly the conditions.
Such encumbrance fell away now. In making an unbeaten 89, Trescothick rocked backwards and forwards and propelled the ball through to the cover boundary. There were the customary flicks off his legs, dabs to third man, which was not always tenanted, and, since he has managed to keep pretty fit, some good running between the wickets. A couple of winters ago he was offered £1m by his then bat sponsor if he cleared the pavilion at Lord's. You would not have bet against him in this touch.
Statistics can appear skewed and none more so than when the realisation dawned that Trescothick was approaching the 50th first-class century of his career. Graeme Hick and Mark Ramprakash are more or less contemporaries, are not nearly such successful international batsmen, and yet each has more than double that tally.
Anyway, he will be pleased with this innings, for not only did it signal a return to form, but it was not scored on the kind of flat Taunton surface of old.
There was appreciable turn before lunch for Monty Panesar, who thought he had had Trescothick caught at short leg on 60, following through as if he was a fast bowler. Umpire Nick Cook had a word with him at the end of the over. That was the one discordant note on a day when the ball constantly seemed to be hitting the sweet spot of his bat and go pinging off towards the boundary.
The other Somerset batsmen did not fare so well. Arul Suppiah was soon bowled by Steve Magoffin, playing an indeterminate pushed drive; Chris Jones was caught at cover, not to the pitch of a rare ball that Panesar did not push through; and James Hildreth, going back to the same bowler and trying to square cut, was taken by Ben Brown. That was 131 for 3.
Just before 3pm torrential rain began, preventing any further play. Sussex had not looked like dismissing Trescothick, surely still the best opening batsman in England, but they are in need of wickets, lying as they are 11 points behind Warwickshire, the Division One leaders. Last season Trescothick scored 1,673 first-class runs at an average of 79.66. Before his eighth innings of this season, he had mustered just 94 at 13.42. This innings will have brought about a significant improvement on those figures. He has hit 16 fours thus far.