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April 28, 2014
Sussex 25 for 1 trail Somerset 372 (Trescothick 116, Petersen 76, Jordan 5-76) by 347 runs
County cricket has sustained Marcus Trescothick for nearly eight long years since his England career came to such a premature end. It has given him professional consolation and personal contentment and he has given a huge amount of entertainment in return. For those who care only for England, he has been a player lost from view before his time. On the county circuit, where the best players are often absent, his presence has been a blessing.
This is an age when so many England cricketers retire without a second thought of finishing their days traversing the county grounds of England, but Trescothick because of personal circumstance has been an exception. His commitment has been unconditional as he has galumphed around the circuit, despatching attacks in that amiable and big boned manner. He symbolises much that is good about Somerset but he has gained a popularity that goes beyond mere partisanship.
That bond between the player and those who watch has rarely been stronger than on the second day of this contest at Hove. This time the applause for his hundred was tinged with relief. It marked Trescothick's first Championship century since September 2012. Last season he went without one for the first time since 1998 and, at 38, unsuccessful runs so prolonged are not often reversed.
Trescothick's 116, an innings ended when he spectacularly lost his middle stump driving ambitiously at Steve Magoffin, armed with the second new ball, would not figure in the list of the most dominant of his 57 first-class centuries, but it would deserve a mention for difficulty.
He turned around his form in exacting circumstances, labouring for five hours in overcast conditions and on a surface where Chris Jordan, coming down the hill, finished with 5 for 76 in 27.3 overs and did much to advertise his claims for a Test debut against Sri Lanka at Lord's in June. Jordan earned the hill on the first day; he won it by right on the second. "I like coming down the hill," he said.
When Trescothick assesses a player he does so with a wealth of experience behind him, no more so than when considering the attributes of a new-ball bowler. He recognises in Jordan a player whose threat is developing, and views him of capable of making the grade in a Test debut against Sri Lanka at Lord's if he outdoes rivals for the place such as Tim Bresnan and Chris Woakes.
Quite how Chris Adams, who has been brought in by Sri Lanka as a consultant for their tour of England, will explain that he saw fit to release Jordan at Surrey is hard to imagine. He, too, thought Jordan was going downhill - though not in the way he did at Hove.
"He bowled a heavy ball: he is probably quicker than most," Trescothick said. "I didn't bat against him much last season because I got a pair. But from two seasons ago I would say he has come on a long, long way. He looks a good prospect.
"He has a big chance at the start of the summer. There is a very good chance he could make the starting line-up because his batting has also been good in the one-day games. He will be fresh on the lips of the selectors."
The groundwork for Trescothick's hundred was laid on the first evening when he negotiated a passage of 32 overs that could easily have seen Somerset lose half a dozen wickets; to lose three, one of them a nightwatchman, represented a job well done. Jordan continued to find alarming bounce at times with the slope in his favour on the second day, but Trescothick's peace of mind never wavered. He progressed in relaxed fashion, as contented as if he was tucked under a duvet watching a favourite DVD.
When he brought up his hundred half-an-hour after lunch, it banished more bad memories. Last year - now very much last year, a year put behind him - he made the first pair of his Championship career against Sussex, his fourth successive duck in all competitions. On both occasions, the bowler was James Anyon. It was Anyon again who this time was pulled through the legside to reach 99 and then pushed wide of mid on the next ball to rid himself of the leanest run of his career.
"It was tough at all times," he said. "The new ball in particular was pretty hard to face. I had to graft and dig in." The pair had not crossed his mind when he made his hundred, he said. But it had crossed his mind on nought. "I was pretty twitchy to begin with," he said.
Packing up the footballs on the dressing room balcony as he spoke was David Houghton, who was released by Derbyshire last October as part of a coaching reshuffle and who has been centrally involved in Trescothick's drive as Somerset's new batting coach.
"We were lucky to pick him up when left Derby and we have done massive amounts of work. John Pitt is also our mind coach - our sports performance coach - and these sorts of people are always vitally important, building individuals back up into the right frame of mind."
Somerset look a reliable fast bowler short of a good season, but they have played some solid cricket so far with draws against Yorkshire, seen as prospective champions by many, and the defending champions Durham. They are commandingly placed midway through this game and have already picked up the in-form Ed Joyce in the 11 overs faced by Sussex before the close.
Trescothick's accomplice in a fifth-wicket stand of 139 was Alviro Petersen, whose assertive 76 needed two let-offs - by Joyce at third slip off Jordan and by the wicketkeeper Ben Brown, who missed a low chance as Petersen sought to cut the slingy slow left-armer Ashar Zaidi.
England are taking a cagey approach with the management of Matt Prior's Achilles problems. He is expected to return as a batsman against Lancashire at Old Trafford, returning to wicketkeeping duties the following week against Durham.
Upon Trescothick's departure, the second new ball seemed likely to bring Somerset's innings to a quick conclusion - James Hildreth received a brute from Jordan to be caught at third slip - but the use of two nightwatchmen meant that Lewis Gregory walked out at No. 11. He is a clean hitter and the knowledge that nine wickets were down did not constrain him. He added 75 in 15 overs with Johann Myburgh, playing with great gusto for 47 from 51 balls before he perished on the cover boundary, leaving Jordan with an eye-catching return.
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