Somerset v Surrey, Taunton, 1st day

Time may be up for Trescothick

David Hopps at Taunton

September 11, 2013

Comments: 27 | Text size: A | A

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

Marcus Trescothick walks from practise, Taunton, April, 17, 2013
Marcus Trescothick has endured a difficult summer © PA Photos

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

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by hhillbumper on (September 12, 2013, 17:42 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.

Posted by fernandotorres on (September 12, 2013, 16:07 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!!

Posted by Cyril_Knight on (September 12, 2013, 14:12 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?

Posted by Diaz54 on (September 12, 2013, 11:33 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!

Posted by JG2704 on (September 12, 2013, 10:02 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

Posted by pragmatist on (September 12, 2013, 9:58 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.

Posted by WilliamFranklin on (September 12, 2013, 9:50 GMT)

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

Posted by Paul_Somerset on (September 12, 2013, 9:02 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?

Posted by cloudmess on (September 12, 2013, 8:45 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.

Posted by siltbreeze on (September 12, 2013, 8:38 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?

Posted by siltbreeze on (September 12, 2013, 8:38 GMT)

Agree that Nosworthy's name has to come into the debate. I haven't been impressed with what I've seen of and heard from him all season. And some of our selection decisions and treatment of players has been bizarre - for instance, playing Gregory as a no.4 batsman who doesn't bowl, abandoning him, then bringing him back as an opening bowler.

But I also think it's time for a change of captain. Tres looks a little worn-down by things and I'd love to see him play unburdened for another couple of years. His on-field leadership in the YB40 semi was poor - lacking imagination and energy and resigned to defeat. The Sky commentators even said he looked flat at the toss.

Posted by Tom_Bowler on (September 12, 2013, 8:25 GMT)

Trescothick is a great sight to see when he's butchering an attack, unless it's your side's attack of course. If stepping down from the captaincy would help him find a bit more joy in his cricket and get back to better batting form it might be a wise move. Would Hildreth, Kieswetter and Compton be the candidates to replace him?

Posted by 2.14istherunrate on (September 11, 2013, 23:39 GMT)

.... and whatever the youngsters may offer in the field,their usefulness at this stage is not probably equal to the proven records of Solanki and Keedy. It is good that Ansari gets some first class games, he is not the bowler that Keedy is, nor Roy, though a good list A player, as good as Solanki. His time will come sooner rather than later, but not yet. Surrey have attracted excess negative publicity for playing older player this season, but really need a bit of understanding because one cannot just whistle up a load of youngsters out of nowhere and expect stellar performances. As it is they are probably going down but is it really anyone's fault? The demonization of experience certainly does not solve their problems, and confidence is desperately required.

Posted by 2.14istherunrate on (September 11, 2013, 23:28 GMT)

At the risk of sparking controversy I am going to say it. the age debate at Surrey has gone on all season and the county have taken a lot of flack for having older cricketers. Age is relative; there is the number then there is how It affects the individual. the 2 are not the same. In any case spinners tend to be a durqable lot as do certain batsmen. Last season we were probably the youngest side and then the Maynard tragedy happened and totally threw a number of players, so more mature players were seen as a good idea. This season these mature types hav ebeen seen as the ultimate ill and youth seen as the panacea. Basically Surrey cannot win, especially as they are not winning. But it is a mistake I think to play youth for youth's sake, andf in any case Solanki and Keedy are still good players, hired to cover the loss of Karthik and Ramps. However the situation resolves itself it is non useful to react with knee jerks.Surrey need a left armer, and a middle order player....

Posted by CamS71 on (September 11, 2013, 23:10 GMT)

Agree with David Hopps that it's time for Banger to relinquish the captaincy & take it easier for his last couple of years. Smack some bowlers around again.

Posted by JG2704 on (September 11, 2013, 22:23 GMT)

@ Paul_Somerset on (September 11, 2013, 19:19 GMT) Thanks Paul for the analysis - keep up the daily reports/opinions

How do you feel about Tres yourself. Nobody wants to see him going out after him personally or Somerset as a side having such a great season but I'd like to ask you (as a regular punter) what you think his problem is and can it be rectified? Would dropping the captaincy solve anything? Just that until now his batting form had been very steady. In 2011 he was a giant and last year he still did well. Might it be worth trying him down the order?

I'd never call for his head. The guy's a legend , but legends have to go some day and I used the Dravid example of someone who went totally off the boil in such a short space of time. Even against WI (2 months before the Aus series when he retired) he scored 2 50s and a ton in 3 tests.

Posted by oldboyba on (September 11, 2013, 21:51 GMT)

Just for the record, most of the Somerset ire against Batty is not the Trego/Batty affair recently BUT the infamous run out by Kartik on 30th August 2012 at Taunton, when even the Surrey supporters deserted their team in disgust!

Posted by andybu on (September 11, 2013, 20:40 GMT)

Interesting article. I agree that Tres needs to hand the captaincy baton over to prolong his life as a batsman. He appears worn out and some of his decisons in the Y40 game that they were thrashed in seemed to be poorly thought through and his subsequent justification defensive. Also agree that Rose's sad departure has undermined one of the pillars that Somerset Cricket Club has been built on for about 40 years. Good news though - Compton has committed his future to Somerset for the next 3-years. If he doesn't go to Australia (and I think he should but don't think he will) then that will mean in all probablility that Somerset will have the services of a high class opener/number 3 bat who should be good or 1200/1500 runs a season in the Championship

Posted by Chops1966 on (September 11, 2013, 20:39 GMT)

Having only been a staunch Somerset supporter for 9 years maybe i should not be commenting. However I am going to. At the beginning of the season Somerset was tipped yet again to do well , this has not happened. Instead of looking at the players who have incidentally not been changed , how about looking at the replacement bought in for Mr Rose. Enough of blaming players who have played well for both County and Country and start looking at the behind the scenes staff. There is something not right since this new signing it is certainly not the Somerset side that I have watched for the past years. Change is in order but once again not necessarily the players should be looked at .

Posted by CricketingStargazer on (September 11, 2013, 20:37 GMT)

With two days of rain forecast, the chances of a result look pretty slim, particularly scoring at 2 an over most of the day. Probably the draw favours Somerset more as they have points on the board, but this must have been pretty awful to watch for the spectators.

I hope that Somerset survive the drop. They are a team that has relied on home-grown talent and have produced a lot of players for England: there is a lot of young talent coming through and, if they can get through this transition phase, they will be strong contenders again soon.

I don't think that anything can save Surrey this season and that they would be better off spending a couple of seasons re-building in Division 2. My guess is that there will be big changes in the squad for next season. At the start of the season, when people questioned their recruitment, we heard that players such as Keedy, Lewis and Solanki would hardly play but, between them, the over-35s have played 51 Championship matches this season.

Posted by   on (September 11, 2013, 20:35 GMT)

"reaching the end of the line and will never secure the titles it deserved"

Please forgive me but which titles are these? The bowling was never a strong enough threat to take 20 wickets regularly in the CC to sustain a credible challenge and I can't think of a single champion who didn't deserve it.

In the shorter formats, Sussex were the side to beat in the late '00s and Hants in the early '10s. Whilst Somerset invariably qulaified for the latter stages of the T20, they were pretty much the only show in town in their group for most of the duration and generally struggled when meeting a side from the SE, where there were often four of five sides per year who wouldn't shame the title of champions.

Posted by Paul_Somerset on (September 11, 2013, 20:19 GMT)

Accurate seam bowling in gloomy conditions did the trick, JG2704. Everyone played their part and Zum looked a tight, coordinated side. Surrey batted like a team that was bottom of the table, i.e. with little conviction, until Batty and Meaker found Chawla was offering enough gifts from the River End to provide a clear way forward. The Chawla long hop which Meaker pulled murderously to the midwicket boundary was the Surrey highlight.

Chawla actually bowled the best I've seen from him for a long time, because at last he was slowing it down, but there simply isn't the menace there for him to get away with the poor balls every leg spinner bowls occasionally.

Posted by salazar555 on (September 11, 2013, 19:46 GMT)

Don't you mean you feel that it is time Marcus hung his boots up but you are suggesting that that the talk is going on up and down the country? Oh, and England don't owe Marcus anything, he got paid a lot of money by England for playing cricket, and due to stress, he decided he could no longer do it. England may well have a role for him, but to owe him something? No, they don't.

If he wanted to finish playing but still have a job in the game then I'm sure he could find one, but for all we know he might not want to stay in the game at all.

Posted by JG2704 on (September 11, 2013, 19:21 GMT)

re today's game , I'd say (considering Somerset's fragile batting this year) honours are pretty much even. At 130-7 , things looked really good for Somerset but Surrey's tail has wagged so far. I'd be interested to hear from Paul or anyone who was at the game. I see Chawla has taken a couple of wickets but he easily has the worst ER.Sometimes it signals bad luck whereas sometimes it signals lack of control

Posted by JG2704 on (September 11, 2013, 19:13 GMT)

It's a real tricky one re Tres. He is obviously a god at Somerset and will be hugely missed and we'd (well definitely Somerset fans) would all love to see him go out on a high , winning a trophy or 2. But he seems to be totally off the boil with his persona; performances. I wonder if his eyesight,concentration or reflexes have deteriorated. Who'd have thought he'd ever go through a season (without much time out) without scoring a ton. Tres was still on fine form last year but it seems to have gone. I remember Rahul Dravid was Indian player of the series vs Eng on their 2011 tour and 6 months later he's retiring. I hope Tres does make the heartbreaking decision as the problem is that Somerset look like they'll lose Buttler and I feel they're far less likely to win a trophy in the foreseeable - for the fairytale ending. I'd say he hands the captaincy over and maybe (if it is sight/reflexes/concentration) have some fun playing the shorter formats maybe batting down the order?

Posted by Paul_Somerset on (September 11, 2013, 19:09 GMT)

Maybe I go into the wrong Taunton pubs, but the name whose departure I hear being discussed is Nosworthy's not Trescothick's. How could Somerset's moderate season be analysed without any mention of the one change from previous years? That is, Brian Rose's departure by, er, mutual agreement and the Committee's disastrous choice of Nosworthy as a replacement.

If the Committee refuses to acknowledge their error and keep Nosworthy, while Somerset's greatest ever native batsman is made the scapegoat and forced out, then I can guarantee Somerset will be making do with one fewer member in 2014.

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David Hopps David Hopps joined ESPNcricinfo as UK editor early in 2012. For the previous 20 years he was a senior cricket writer for the Guardian and covered England extensively during that time in all Test-playing nations. He also covered four Olympic Games and has written several cricket books, including collections of cricket quotations. He has been an avid amateur cricketer since he was 12, and so knows the pain of repeated failure only too well. The pile of untouched novels he plans to read, but rarely gets around to, is now almost touching the ceiling. He divides his time between the ESPNcricinfo office in Hammersmith and his beloved Yorkshire.
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