Trescothick leads victory charge
Somerset 234 and 250 for 3 (Trescothick 133, Myburgh 55) beat Durham 155 and 326 (Richardson 116, C Overton 5-63) by 7 wickets
The roar that greeted Marcus Trescothick's century reflected the affection that he is held at Taunton and beyond. If the gap between his 18th and 19th first-class centuries at the ground had been too long - 618 days to be exact - Trescothick could scarcely have chosen a better moment to end it.
His innings did more than guide Somerset to 248, and with enough haste to make up for four hours lost on the final day to showers; and it did more than just take Somerset to second in the table, a position they hold as the division's only unbeaten side. It created a resounding sense that Trescothick's struggles last season, averaging 28 in the championship, were not the indications of decline that had been feared. Somerset have won two championship games this season; a Trescothick century has underpinned both.
They have been of very different characters. His century at Hove held Somerset together in testing batting conditions; here he hurtled to 133 at better than a run a ball. Consecutive sixes off Chris Rushworth, over long-on and midwicket, would have cleared many larger grounds than Taunton. But for sheer audacity, no shot matched a paddle over fine leg for six.
The opposition captain, Paul Collingwood, could only admire the onslaught. "It's a pleasure to watch watching him in that kind of form because it just proves that he's still one of the world's best batsman around," he said. "I'm not just saying English batsmen, I'm saying when he's in that mood he's literally got all the shots. It's incredible to watch. In many ways it's such a shame that he hasn't played more for England."
"We'll talk about that innings for the next ten years," Collingwood added, highlighting Trescothick's contempt for Ryan Pringle's offspin on a wicket that was offering assistance. "Hitting shots out of the rough over extra cover for six and playing around with the field the way he was. It's just unbelievable."
Collingwood believes Trescothick is even more explosive on the county circuit than playing for England. "I've always thought that when you play in the England set-up, the intensity and the pressure that's on you, you probably don't play to your 100% capabilities and he seems to have this kind of freedom," he said. "When you've got a guy with the kind of skill with that mentality, it looks as if he's a better player now when he's in that form then when he was with England. But I think you could argue that the pressure of playing for England is the thing that holds you back a bit."
Trescothick's intent was palpable from his opening two balls of the day, both harrumphed through the offside for four. It was quite the learning curve for offspinner Pringle, who was then launched for six over extra cover amid the carnage. With a serious thunderstorm due - and it arrived at 11.38, with Somerset still needing 80 more, and play could not resume for four hours - Trescothick evidently relished the urgency of the situation.
"If it's in the zone you've got to give it everything you can do," he said. "You tend to lose sight of the fear." Compared to his more adhesive effort at Hove (when his strike-rate was 49), this innings was "a lot more enjoyable because you could express yourself a bit more and I probably played a bit freer."
And it would have been all the more satisfying for coming after the struggles of last season. "Last season was unique for us because it was just a downward spiral," Trescothick said. "There's no doubt about it, everyone questions themselves. You probably question yourself even more at 38." At one point Somerset's skipper scored two runs in five innings across formats.
"You train, you work and you do everything and you think why aren't I getting the results?" But Trescothick resisted the urge to change the method that has served him so well. "I'm still working the same way that I have done from last season to this. Maybe it's just a bit of confidence, when you get that score that you need."
It has become a cliché to say that he is no technician, but Trescothick's nous, self-belief and knowledge of his own game trumpets any lack of footwork. "The winter was the key time for my rebuilding," he said. A championship average of 51 in 2014, is providing considerable - and rather heart-warming - vindication.
With the pitch having slowed over the course of the game, Durham's only chance of success rested on Pringle's best impersonation of Saeed Ajmal: quite the task for a 22-year-old making his first-class debut. He did not wilt, claiming Nick Compton lbw and belatedly snaring Trescothick at long-off, but far more established bowlers would have had no riposte to Trescothick's assault.
Durham's fate rather seemed sealed from before the day's first delivery, with Mark Wood - likened to Simon Jones by Trescothick - and Jamie Harrison both unable to bowl, although Wood still took to the outfield. Add Graham Onions, Ben Stokes and Scott Borthwick and you would have a formidable attack from Durham's bowling absentees.
"I would have loved to have seen the competition, especially with the rough outside offstump, of Borthwick and Trescothick," Collingwood lamented. Graham Onions and Ben Stokes, who could both return at Trent Bridge on Sunday, are needed: "It is a bit desperate at the moment," Collingwood admitted. "I always said that we over-achieved last year."