Somerset v Surrey, Taunton, 1st day September 11, 2013

Time may be up for Trescothick


Surrey 195 for 8 (Batty 39, Davies 38, Meschede 3-37) v Somerset

There is a growing sense at Taunton that change is inevitable. They are agonising over it in the committee rooms and rueing the fact in pubs across the county. At the centre of the discussions is the future of Marcus Trescothick, one of county cricket's most treasured figures. He might have skippered Somerset to a cupboard full of one-day trophies. Instead, he is in the middle of a relegation battle.

Doing the right thing for Marcus is the phrase which repeatedly occurs. Somerset continue to hope that he will play until his 40th birthday, an ambition he expressed soon after ending his England career to control a stress-related disorder, but after four years it might be beneficial for all concerned for him to hand over the captaincy. He has served his time. Let him wind down quietly, biff some fours, leave wider concerns to others.

He will not be short of suggestions. Somerset are committed to a supportive transition and it would be no surprise if England offered him a role while his playing career continues: he would make a good talent scout, perhaps even a selector as a player still actively in touch with the game. He suffered his stress-related ailment playing for England and, as one of the most popular players of his generation to have worn the England shirt, cricket will not be blind to its responsibilities.

It is conceivable that county cricket is discussed in Somerset pubs more than in any other county in the land. (That includes Yorkshire where people normally begin by discussing the price of a pint). Eavesdrop in pubs and you tend to get pub talk, but when the word "debacle" was used to describe Somerset's defeat against Nottinghamshire in the Yorkshire Bank 40 semi-final at Trent Bridge on Monday night and it seemed an appropriate charge.

Add further disappointment this season in the Friends Life t20 quarter-final and the realisation is dawning that Trescothick's fine Somerset side is reaching the end of the line and will never secure the titles it deserved.

Instead, Trescothick stands at slip and tries to marshal an escape from the Championship's bottom two. The season has reached a critical juncture. Somerset began the match 15 points ahead of Surrey, who have a game in hand. Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire remain in touch, but this is not the time to lose ground. By restricting Surrey to 195 for 8 in 81 overs, before bad light stole an hour from the day, Somerset will rightly feel they have had a good day, but both these sides are low on confidence.

That was evident in a careworn Surrey batting performance. The pitch is far from a batting paradise once so common at Taunton, but Somerset's pace attack, if maintaining exemplary accuracy, was hardly life-threatening. Surrey made 61 for 4 in the morning, 63 for 2 in the afternoon. The game limped ahead around two runs an over. The cider felt less satisfying than usual; the air, full of foreboding, also became full of drizzle.

Surrey's executive director, Alec Stewart, has set a target of two wins from their last three games to escape the drop. Having rubbished those last week who have called for an influx of youth at such a critical stage, he sprang a surprise by including Dom Sibley, who is still doing A-levels at Whitgift School. Sibley ground his way to 10 before he was lbw, squared up on the back foot, and became the first of three victims for Craig Meschede.

Meschede's delight, understandably, was even more apparent in his next over when he dismissed Hashim Amla fifth ball for nought. Amla's preparation was hardly ideal: a flight back from South Africa, where he was showered with awards at their annual ceremony, and a quick drive down the M4 from Heathrow. He got out to the sort of leg-side strangle to make his eyes pop and, on this occasion, probably make his ears pop as well. Kieswetter's catch to rid Somerset off Rory Burns was more spectacular.

Surrey's resistance was most passive when Zafar Ansari was at the crease. His 8 encompassed 70 balls and he needed 42 of them to get off the mark. Test cricket has thrown up longer feats of inactivity: Stuart Broad blocked out 62 balls in England's rear-guard in the Auckland Test earlier this year, but it was a strange sight on the first afternoon of a Championship match.

Steve Davies' 38 was a more selective affair, but when he fell to Piyush Chawla's legbreaks, Gareth Batty and Stuart Meaker adopted a more attacking outlook in adding 64 in 13 overs. Batty had form and was roundly booed on his arrival at the crease. It was a leftover not just from his antagonistic send-off to Peter Trego in the Flt20 quarter-final, a display which saw him banned from Finals Day, but also from his refusal to withdraw Murali Kartik's appeal against Alex Barrow last season when Kartik ran out Barrow backing up

The crowd shouted for Trego to take revenge - the obligatory bouncer arrived second ball - but instead they had to watch Batty drag Surrey back into contention. Revenge would be sweet, but they cannot be at all certain they will achieve it.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • stuart on September 12, 2013, 16:42 GMT

    Tres is still a good class batsman who needs some time in the middle and maybe not being Captain.i think most people who have a second county would normally choose Somerset or Durham.Classy outfits both of them.

  • Sakush on September 12, 2013, 15:07 GMT

    One bad season and everyone is like prepare the chop boards!! Its not that only Tres who has underperformed, the whole team has underperformed! So what?? Release the entire team?? Its amazing! One poor season and a decade of good work goes right out of the window!! There has been many distractions this season like - Nosworthy, Craig V Jos as Wk, Compdog's contract but Trescothick's captaincy surely does not top the list!!

  • Cyril on September 12, 2013, 13:12 GMT

    Trescothick's terrible season reminds me of Rampraskash last season. Something just disappeared overnight. Ramps couldn't hit be ball and never looked like recovering any form. But that was at the beginning of the season on green wickets. Trescothick has had plenty of innings in all formats to get going again and has failed. Sentiment is one thing, but if Somerset are relegated what would he achieve by playing Second Division cricket?

  • Pundit on September 12, 2013, 10:33 GMT

    I am all for supporting and respecting players coming to an end of their career. Fresco thing has contributed a lot to England cricket. Very please to hear Someset management are managing his exit very sensibly.

    Shame on Surrey for not doing the same for Ramps! Brilliant and no doubt legendary in county cricket. Deserved better treatment and allowed to control his exit which was premature. International cricket no justice saw ell played lot of games against Legendry West Indies attack!

  • John on September 12, 2013, 9:02 GMT

    Just wondering guys - if you think Tres relinquishing the captaincy may help him it suggests that the captaincy is a bit of a burden. For the last 2 or 3 years Tres's personal form has run parralel with the teams form. So I'm wondering if the Jos/Craig situation is causing him stress which is affecting his form etc. It must be a horrid situation because Tres is wanting to keep both players but maybe finds it a struggle to keep both satisfied.

    @Paul_Somerset on (September 12, 2013, 8:02 GMT) I was suggesting him batting down the order - if it was a problem with his eyesight/reflexes but your saying about his sharp slip catches maybe quashes that

    @siltbreeze on (September 12, 2013, 7:38 GMT) I like Trego alot - maybe could captain in the shorter formats

  • Andy on September 12, 2013, 8:58 GMT

    Having spent some time in the area, I'm proud to say Somerset is my second county. Somerset have punched way above their weight in all competitions in recent years. I am always cheered by how well they do, and to how much cricket matters to people in not just Somerset but also Devon and Cornwall. Marcus deserves a huge amount of credit, both personally and professionally. This really seems to be one bad season after years of success. Is it the end of an era? Perhaps Cricinfo should interview Marcus or Vic Marks for their thoughts.

  • Adam on September 12, 2013, 8:50 GMT

    It is amazing that Somerset have never won the County Championship. What a poor record.

  • Paul on September 12, 2013, 8:02 GMT

    Being truly incapable of hitting a cricket ball with a bat, I really have no right to analyse Trescothick's batting or give the man advice. On the other hand, I pay my membership, so here goes .. .it's a technique which relies on precise hand-eye coordination and I don't think that has yet dimmed with age, the evidence being the numerous sharp catches he still keeps taking in the slips. What has changed to my eye, particularly since the ankle surgery last year, is he's introduced a bit of footwork, which may not be wise when your ankles are perhaps only 99% reliable. Maybe returning to a more Sehwag-style see-ball-hit-ball plan would be worth trying. Just add a bit of circumspection to the Sehwag technique, though, please.

    Dropping down the order would mean promoting Jones or Barrow, which would solve one problem by introducing another at this stage. And why should he lose the captaincy after all the wonderful success his captaincy has brought him and us?

  • David on September 12, 2013, 7:45 GMT

    What about Somerset's coach - well he resign? It's notable how things have nose-dived since their previous coach - Brian Rose - stepped down at the end of last season. Rose never remotely gets the credit he deserves for firstly skippering (in the early 1980s), and then later managing Somerset through the 2 most successful periods in their history. It's time to bring him back.

  • Martin on September 12, 2013, 7:38 GMT

    The question is, who are the possible replacements. Hildreth might have been the obvious choice (with his Lions captaincy experience) but his game has deserted him completely, Thomas tends to miss parts of the season with his T20 commitments, and I don't see Kieswetter or Compton as captaincy material. Which leaves Trego - any thoughts?