Trescothick sets new Taunton mark
Somerset 193 for 2 (Trescothick 107*, Petersen 57*) trail Lancashire 266 by 73 runs
Marcus Trescothick has scored more first-class runs at Taunton's County Ground than any other batsman. That's one fact. Another is that the vast majority of them will have been made on pitches a lot less stodgy than this slow, bare and dry surface, which has tested the patience and staying power of players and spectators alike.
It has been tough going so far - and one can only assume it will get tougher still for most of those out in the middle. But while a bit more pace in the pitch would be welcome, watchers who like slow burners and not too much biff, bash, bosh have been in their element. Above all, this contest between the title-dreaming hosts and the relegation-haunted visitors could bubble up into a brilliant finish come the final afternoon - and make the terrific centuries of either Trescothick or Paul Horton look even more valuable than they do now.
Where Lancashire opener Horton trod in making 140 out of a total of 266, Somerset opposite number Trescothick was desperate to follow. In fact, so determined was the former England batsman not to make a mistake during the searching new-ball spells of Glen Chapple and Kyle Hogg that he needed 31 deliveries to get off the mark, and 38 to reach 3.
Three? That not usually significant score took Trescothick's total first-class runs on this ground to 7,229 - one more than the previous record-holder Lionel Palairet, who served Somerset splendidly well between 1890 and 1909.
No doubt Palairet was popular, but few have been more popular in these parts than Trescothick. His loyal fan club suffered with him last season when he could not even sniff a century and now those members who insisted normal service would resume in 2014 have been proved right.
Hundreds against Sussex (at Hove) and Durham (Taunton) contributed to victories. This innings might have a similar impact - and, if it does, Lancashire will look back with regret on the moment Trescothick edged Wayne White hard and fast towards second slip where a seemingly startled Ashwell Prince could only help a shoulder high ball on its way to the rope.
Trescothick had made 25 at the time and, despite having already hoisted left-arm spinner Simon Kerrigan for a six, was by no means finding life straightforward. He soon added three authentic fours, though, and almost instantly looked if not at ease then at least in control of the situation.
With Kerrigan turning the ball quite a long way at times, there was no question of batting with real freedom. Indeed, the slow bowler was convinced he had taken a return catch to remove Trescothick on 50 (umpire Rob Bailey ruling that no bat was involved) while Somerset's captain almost ran himself out going for the single which completed his half-century. Always built more for comfort than speed, Trescothick, at 38, really shouldn't try anything quite so risky and was fortunate here that former team-mate Jos Buttler missed the target with his throw from short cover.
By then, however, Trescothick had found just the partner he needed in Alviro Petersen. Both Chris Jones and Nick Compton failed to kick on after digging in but the hosts' third wicket pair prospered in the warmest sunshine of the day.
Most eyes, understandably, were on Trescothick, who completed the 54th first-class century of his career with a scampered two. Despite the slow start, this one still came from a perfectly acceptable 219 deliveries and included 15 fours as well as that early six.
Petersen, though, deserved plenty of praise, too. He did have a moment of luck, on 37, when slightly top-edging a pull against offspinner Steven Croft to deep midwicket where Kerrigan, perilously close to the rope, could only push the ball, above his head, for six. But the South African played with reassuring certainty for most of his knock and contributed fully to a priceless, and as yet unbroken, stand of 144.
"They dovetailed nicely because we were almost getting ourselves into a corner," Somerset's director of cricket, Dave Nosworthy, said. "Now we are in a decent position but not yet a controlling position."
And what of Trescothick's innings? "It was right up there in terms of quality and he's a pleased man tonight," Nosworthy added. "Being able to cope with the pressure and conditions like those is what sets players like Tres apart."
David Lloyd is a former chief cricket correspondent of PA and the Evening Standard