Trescothick double bashes away conspiracies
Sussex 409 (Yardy 104, Zaidi 91, Joyce 83) drew with Somerset 438 for 4 dec (Trescothick 210*, Trego 100*, Hildreth 68)
This was a day spent chuntering about could-be controversies and moral quagmires that never quite came to pass. In those disputes stead stood Marcus Trescothick.
With both sides trapped in a relegation bunfight with Hampshire, not many at Hove were impressed with the contrivance at the Ageas Bowl, especially when Yorkshire fell to 37 for 3. This sense of injustice was exacerbated by the fact that Hampshire were facing a weakened Yorkshire outfit, which is set to return to full strength when Sussex visit Headingley on Tuesday. But when Yorkshire's fourth wicket was worth 190 those grumbles rather died, as it became clear Hampshire had gone hard, and were going home.
Then, with this game merely an exercise in accumulating vital bonus points, not many Sussex fans were particularly enamoured by the idea of a Somerset declaration that denied them a shot at two more points for their bowling. But having taken four in 100 overs, the chances of two more in 10 looked slim, so when Trescothick turned and offered a hand to Ed Joyce to call stumps, he duly accepted.
Ultimately, both these sides, Somerset having given Mike Yardy a guard of honour on his last day at Hove, and Sussex having watched the last rites at the Ageas Bowl on TV, as well as Worcestershire's relegation being confirmed, left pretty contented.
The unflappable constant was Trescothick, who produced a magnificent sixth first-class double century, never looking like getting out, and all the while utterly aware of Somerset's position in the game, and totally unconcerned by goings-on elsewhere. He was here to bat as long as his team needed him to in order to leave with 13 points, and to blunt Sussex's attack to limit their haul: 157 personal and 324 team runs later for the day, he did just that. Somerset took 13 points, two more than Sussex, and a place above them in the table for good measure.
The man oozed control: going through the motions, but going past marker posts for bonus points and personal milestones, too. "I didn't try to get drawn into what was going on at the Ageas," he said. "[Umpire] Alex Wharf told me out there that they were 30 for 3 but I just thought 'I'm not interested'. What will be will be. It's out of our hands, we can't control what they are doing over there.
"I was really determined going into this game. It was just so important, given the position the two teams were in in the competition. Getting in there today, the bonus points were absolutely vital, in the context of what it is, and trying to limit Sussex to as little as what they could do. Going in from lunch onwards, we had a clear plan. I was really determined about how we approached it and it worked out great."
The great joy of watching Trescothick make runs these days is that, really, nothing has changed. The strokes are the same: the punchy drives with minimal foot movement, that scythe of a cut, the gentle dab to third man, the dismissive flick should the bowler err onto his pads and the glorious, gut-swinging pull off his chin; even the upper cut made an appearance when Chris Jordan dropped short. There's a pair of glasses and he's a touch slower between the wickets, but Trescothick's all there.
It was the cover drive that brought him his century, his second in a week and 58th of his career, after a quiet start to a day played under blue skies on a flat pitch. His partner was James Hildreth, an equally assured presence, driving prettily and flicking nicely to leg; indeed it was a particularly fine glance that took him past 50.
Both dissected some rather strange fields as Ashar Zaidi and Luke Wells did plenty of bowling, while Steve Magoffin - who now has 535 Championship overs in his legs this season - appeared to rest up ahead of a trip to Headingley. Either way, Sussex didn't look a team as desperate for their bonus points as Trescothick, who flogged them for their folly.
Hildreth was caught down the legside by a diving Ben Brown, and Jim Allenby fell the next over, a thick edge heading straight to Chris Nash at third slip. But while Sussex's tails were temporarily up, all they had done was bring Trescothick and Peter Trego together, the latter with an equally insatiable appetite for slaughter. He was away with a fizzing straight drive off Zaidi - who cut an extremely frustrated figure after a couple of rejected appeals - and was quick to pull anything short.
Trescothick continued relentlessly, consecutively cover driving for four and hoicking for six off Wells, while Sussex's last hope was the new ball, and its first delivery was flicked hard to the midwicket fence. He took Somerset past 400 with a wild pull and reached 200 with a cut off Wells. Not to be outdone, Trego plonked Zaidi for a huge straight six, and dab swept and cover driven fours in an over, before savagely pulling for his century shortly after 4.10.
Over strolled Trescothick, as Trego pumped the air in celebration, shook his team-mate's hand, turned to Joyce and told him enough was enough of this mighty fun partnership.
"[My body] is barking at the moment," Trescothick reflected. "The back is in bits from bending over quite a bit. But it's one of those pains that is quite nice to put up with. One of the ankles is a bit sore, so I'll keep an eye on that. But I'm more than happy to stay out there if I'm making this many runs." So are we, Marcus. So are we.