Trescothick sets sights on 40 and beyond
Marcus Trescothick may have suffered a premature end to his England career but he is determined to continue giving back to Somerset, the county where he has spent almost 20 years, expressing a desire to continue playing into his forties. Should he get there, then the life-enriching properties of sausages will have to be reappraised.
The county circuit lost two old-stagers into their fifth decades in 2012, with the retirements of Mark Ramprakash and Robert Croft - both 42 when age finally caught up with them. Trescothick, who played the last of his 76 Tests and 123 one-day internationals in 2006 before a stress-related illness prompted him to put club above country, will be 37 in December and missed a large chunk of last season with an ankle injury. However, successful surgery on the problem has provided encouragement that he has a few more years of brutalising county attacks left in him.
The loss of their captain for three months of the season was representative of Somerset's campaign, as 24 different players were used in the Championship - joint most with Surrey. Such disruption made their second-place finish, 24 points behind champions Warwickshire, all the more commendable and Trescothick - who passed 1,000 runs in five consecutive seasons between 2007 and 2011 - hopes to have several shots left at ending Somerset's long wait for a first Championship pennant.
"My target is to get to 40 and reassess things then," he said. "If my ankle and the rest of my body holds up, I don't see any reason why I shouldn't still be playing then and beyond. There's no more swelling now and there is an opportunity through the winter to strengthen it further.
"I know there will be niggles along the way and I may need the odd injection. But I am adapting my training programme to manage things and don't foresee any serious problems. I don't see much changing over the next three or four years and it is certainly my intention to go on playing for as long as possible."
Professional sportsmen in the modern era might be expected to go on longer than their predecessors, aided by advancements in training, dietary awareness and fitness regimes, but few cricketers contemplate playing the first-class game into their fifties, as WG Grace and Jack Hobbs once did.
The likes of John Emburey, Graham Gooch and Alec Stewart have, more recently, continued playing Test cricket into their forties, however, and Graeme Hick (who retired at 42) and Paul Nixon (40) continued to give good service to their counties until an age when it was once said life truly begins. Murray Goodwin, who was this year discarded by Sussex at the end of a season when the reactions appeared to have slowed irretrievably, was signed up by Glamorgan, two months before his 40th birthday.
In attempting to reach the landmark, Trescothick may have to steel himself for more heartache: in the last three years, Somerset have lost five limited-overs finals, as well as twice finishing runners-up in the Championship. Alongside the chance to end that rum run, there are personal records to contemplate. With 13,641 runs for the county, he is unlikely to overhaul Harold Gimblett (21,142) but Peter Wight's 16,965 is possibly within his reach. If form and fitness hold, he could become the first man to score 50 first-class hundreds for Somerset.
He would surely prefer to end the county's Championship hoodoo, though the sight of him carving cut shots across the Taunton outfield in four seasons' time would be satisfaction enough for many in that part of the world. A permanent place on the Sky Sports sofa, where Trescothick makes an engaging pundit, surely beckons but he won't be getting comfy just yet.
Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo