The T20 entertainer England missed
When England called up Ian Bell and Chris Woakes as replacements for their World T20 squad in Bangladesh, there was a slumping of shoulders from England supporters at the lack of inspiration. Fine cricketers both but not exciting new names to raise expectations. Might a jovial West Country allrounder have been the man to enthuse the fans?
The sight England have lost, spectators in this season's revamped NatWest T20 Blast can revel in. Peter Trego, beloved in Somerset and vociferously championed for years by much of the county cricket fraternity on social media, can be expected to bring his own brand of belligerence to Friday nights.
Trego provides entertainment. After many years at Somerset, with T20 experience around the world - although escaping the gaze of the IPL - and with high-class ability with both bat and ball, is Trego the man England have missed? Predictably overlooked for the upcoming Sri Lanka series, he begins a fresh new domestic T20 format with international ambitions still to be realised.
"That's the reason I wake up in the morning and want to play cricket," Trego said after another day delighting the Somerset public, this time with a counter-attacking innings against Nottinghamshire. "I'm not blind to the social media stuff, I get a lot of support from the general public saying they'd like to see me get a crack and that is completely my goal within my career.
"I know that I can do it. I've done it on the big stage against IPL franchises and world-class attacks and it's just about doing enough consistently to get that opportunity because I don't think anyone in English cricket wouldn't admit that there are spaces in the limited-overs England teams."
Trego moved into England circles in 2010 with 10 appearances for the Lions. But England were then at their peak. The team sheet may now have more blanks to fill than for many years but has this opening come too late for Trego, who will turn 33 next month and pushing the back-end of an average cricketers' lifespan by the time the next World T20 comes around in 2016? The best advice is to catch him in the Blast while he remains at his peak.
"Age doesn't concern me," a sanguine Trego said. "Statistically I'm probably one of the fittest cricketers in the country. I train and do triathlons on my days off for fun. From a physical point of view, I'm in the best shape I've ever been in in my life. I've worked relentlessly, especially over the last two years on my physical self and made some surprising ground even for myself. So it doesn't bother me. It's about putting up the numbers on the board."
And Trego's career numbers compare very well against the members of England's World T20 squad. In last year's Friends Life t20, he was among the leading all-round performers with 289 runs at 36.12 and a strike rate of 117.95. With the ball, his economy rate of 5.86 was the fourth best of bowlers to have played in 10 or more matches.
Not blessed with express pace and often asked to bowl during the Powerplay, Trego has developed a number of change-ups to ensure he remains unpredictable. His armoury contains an offcutter, legcutter, one out of the back of the hand and a seam-up delivery where he does not snap his wrist. He uses the yorker only as a last resort but has been working on the wide full delivery that is in vogue.
"I've almost got to bowl with a spinner's mentality," he says. "With three or four variations on my slower ball and making sure that my stock delivery into length is bowled hard into the pitch so if there is some seam movement I exploit that.
"I'm not a particularly strong yorker bowler, so I need to find different ways of tying the batsman down. When you're not blessed with huge amounts of speed you have to rely on a bit of craft so having different slower balls is pretty crucial."
Trego is also tasked with a top-order slot in the batting and made handy runs in last season's FLt20. But it was in the 40-over competition that he found his best form last season, with 745 runs at 82.77, the leading tally in the tournament as Somerset reached the semi-finals.
It would be easy to see Trego's heavily tattooed arms, hear the gentle West County burr in his voice, realise his love for entertaining and cast Trego as a happy-go-lucky cricketer. But success rarely comes without a plan and, like the careful thinking behind his bowling, he talks intelligently about tactics with the bat.
"I like to go in in the first 10-15 balls and just look to hit fours, not necessarily look to go aerial," Trego says. "I normally find that when I'm hitting the ball sweetly and piercing the gaps for fours, the sixes take care of themselves a bit.
"I think as a top-order batter in one-day cricket you have to back yourself to maybe see a few dots in the early part of your innings but with the confidence that you can catch up later on in your innings and get the boundaries flowing.
"I'll be looking to concentrate on my ball-striking really and making sure I'm connecting with balls in the right ways, not trying to over-hit too much. I think there were times when a lot of guys used to try and hit the ball three streets away whereas you only have to get it over the rope.
"With all the gym work we do nowadays and the big bats, it's all about timing really, the guys who are successful at T20 are good timers of the ball, they don't just go out swinging blindfolded."
Trego enjoys a T20 day - a refreshing affair after the rigours of four-day cricket, where at Taunton the games are difficult to get through for an allrounder. The shortest format also provides the best platform for his desire to please the crowd: "When I'm having fun is definitely when I'm at my best." The dashing 86 that lit up Somerset's last Championship match, a tame draw against Notts, demonstrates that he plays in the same way across all formats.
"I play with one of the greats of the modern era in Marcus Trescothick and it's a great feeling for me to have an equally loud clap when I walk to the wicket," Trego says. "I love the fact that I entertain and will continue to do so. T20 is a great opportunity to go out there and give the crowd exciting cricket and that's certainly what I'm trying to deliver."